Wednesday, April 14, 1999

'You want to reach out to these people,' Lt. governor says




BY WALT SCHAEFER and TOM O'NEILL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[oconnor]
Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, center, talks with Dmitri and Ellen Mavriplis, whose home was damaged.
(Jim Matthews photo)
| ZOOM |
        Ohio Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor toured tornado-ravaged areas Tuesday, overwhelmed by the extent of the damage and the community outpouring of help.

        She said nine crews of damage-assessment experts were reviewing the various communities, particularly Montgomery, Blue Ash, and Sycamore and Symmes townships, to determine what, if any, federal aid would be available.

        A decision, she said, might be made in two weeks.

        “My first reaction is emo tional,” she said as she toured Montgomery Woods, one of the hardest-hit areas. “You want to reach out to these people. ... It's amazing there was no more loss of life.”

        Tuesday was a day in which residents continued the arduous task of rebuilding their lives.

        Meanwhile, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials began their assessment of the storm damage to determine whether the area is eligible for additional federal aid, including grants.

        Local officials also began to compile preliminary damage estimates.

        Eric Minamyer, chairman of the Symmes trustees, said the township estimates 103 single-family homes, 17 multifamily buildings and 36 businesses there have been damaged or destroyed.

        Two churches, Montgomery Community Baptist Church and Grace Baptist Church, sustained massive damage.

        A “Clean up Symmes” event will be held Saturday. People in need of help are asked to call 235-9622; volunteers should call 703-0686.

        Crews visited Symmes on Tuesday, clearing debris from township waterways. Mr. Minamyer said the brush and trees are being taken to township-owned, undeveloped park land, and residents are asked only to leave their debris along the roads. Cleanup will take it to the dump area.

        Montgomery City Manager Cheryl Hilvert said the city estimates damage to private property alone at $18 million, plus $10 million at the Johnson Nature Preserve.

        An additional $1 million in damage occurred on public property, primarily at the city's public works building, which lost its roof, and at a Sycamore school district training facility.

        In Sycamore Township, Administrator Lori Thompson said 100 homes sustained damage and 40 homes were destroyed. All the damage in Sycamore was to residential areas.

        In Blue Ash, City Manager Marvin Thompson estimated damage at $27 million, of which $1.8 million was residential. Four businesses were destroyed and nine others damaged.

        Two homes were condemned and 51 damaged, six heavily. The cost to the public works department will be about $350,000, he said.

        Ohio Casualty Corp. said Tuesday it has received 120 claims from victims of Friday's tornado. Net losses total about $7 million.

        Ursula Miller contributed to this report.

       



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