Thursday, August 17, 2000

Clermont grant for disaster aid

County mulls how to spend $300K

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIAMI TOWNSHIP — Weather and man-made disasters have taken their toll on Clermont County in recent years, causing millions in damage.

        Today, Clermont starts a new battle against them.

        County emergency management officials and community leaders at 2 p.m. will kick off Project Impact with a $300,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

        Clermont is just the third area in Ohio to get that large a grant. In the program, FEMA will reimburse the county for expenses in setting up and implementing a disaster-reduction response system.

        “Hopefully, the public has learned that these things are going to always occur, so we need to be prepared,” Lorna Rose, operations officer for the county's emergency management services, said.

        No projects have been defined yet, but a 25-member steering committee has identified three areas of initial focus: hazards, emergency coordination, and infrastructure such as local public works departments.

        “One of the big pushes is public education,” Ms. Rose said.

        The committee also is considering an upgraded cellular-phone system.

        Another idea the committee likely will pursue is building park restroom structures that can double as shelters during severe weather.

        The plan is modeled after a restroom building at Colerain Park called a Tornado Resistant Comfort Station and Multipurpose Facility. Colerain trustees dedicated the structure in late June.

        FEMA's Project Impact helped pay for the $240,000 structure in Colerain. The township and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources also contributed.

        Residents with suggestions or who want more information can call Ms. Rose at 735-8500.


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