Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Outlying damage still being counted

Indiana, Warren Co. seek federal help

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Five days after a deadly tornado ripped through the area, Warren County and Indiana officials Tuesday were still tabulating the financial toll.

        Warren County commissioners and Deerfield Township officials met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials Tuesday to determine whether tornado victims are eligible for grants and other assistance.

        Officials estimate Warren County sustained nearly $2.2 million in damage from Friday morning's twister. Deerfield Township's Loveland Park accounted for the most, with more than $1.5 million damage and over 80 homes affected.

        Cleanup efforts continued Tuesday, as township officials estimate they've spent nearly $18,000 in overtime pay for debris clearance and protective measures since Friday.

        Hamilton Township reported between $700,000 and $800,000 in property damage, with about 39 homes affected.

        No demolitions have been scheduled in Warren County to date, according to Warren County's Building Department.

        “There were a few houses in the county that have been deemed uninhabitable,” said Jerry Spurling, Warren County's chief building official. “But because the homes are not considered a threat for injury, we have not taken steps to have the homes demolished.”

        In Indiana, FEMA inspectors toured Indiana's affected counties Tuesday, tallying up the damage.

        Many barns, garages and outbuildings were destroyed or seriously damaged, but exact numbers were not available Tuesday afternoon, according to Indiana Emergency Management Agency spokesman Alden Taylor.

        Houses and mobile homes were counted according to whether they were destroyed or suffered major or minor damage.

        Ripley County, about 50 miles southwest of Cincinnati, was the hardest hit. Five homes were destroyed, 10 had major damage and 19 had minor damage.

        In Dearborn County, four homes had major damage and four had minor damage; in Jefferson County, three were destroyed and one had major damage; Jennings County had one destroyed and two with major damage; Jay County had one destroyed and one with minor damage; and Wayne County had one with major damage and three with minor damage.

        Ripley County Councilman Chuck Folz said the tornado wreaked havoc on several small, rural communities. The most damage occurred in the unincorporated hamlet of Benham.

        Damages countywide were estimated at about $1.3 million Tuesday — and Mr. Folz expects the number to climb as structural problems and other hidden impacts are discovered.

        “There's a lot of damage you can't see with the naked eye,” he said. “My feeling is it's going to be twice that amount.”


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