By Lance Mihm
Logjams in rivers and continued cleanup of other debris from the recent ice storm is pushing the total claims for federal disaster relief funding even higher in Auglaize and Mercer counties.
Mercer County emergency management director Wanda Dicke said a resubmitted claim from the county engineer's office has increased the county's overall claim to just more than $1.2 million. Numbers for river and stream cleanup in Auglaize County are expected to be about $600,000, pushing the county's total to about $1.85 million.
Dicke said all Mercer County applicants have completed assessment forms for its total. Auglaize County emergency management director Dennis Mallory said several of his county entities still need to turn in forms.
"The townships and villages which have only submitted estimates will not qualify for reimbursement of expenses if they don't submit damage assessment forms to the local EMA office," Mallory said.
Mallory said officials in the village of Cridersville, as well as Duchouquet, German, Goshen, Jackson, Logan, Moulton, Noble, Salem, Washington and Wayne townships, have yet to turn in forms. "We worked on getting the deadline extended," Mallory said. "We sent letters out to everyone who has not yet submitted their forms on Monday. They need to get these in soon."
In Auglaize County, the river and stream cleanups represent a large portion of the claims, about 33 percent. Debris removal totaled about $531,000, and public utilities damage totaled about $513,000. Protective measures, such as sandbagging, totaled $92,870.
Dicke said Mercer County had not yet received its itemized list from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Auglaize County officials met with federal and state EMA officials Jan. 21, and Mercer County officials met with them Jan. 22.
According to the federal Strafford Act, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft can seek a presidential declaration of disaster by submitting a written request to President George Bush through the regional FEMA office in Chicago. The governor must certify the combined local, county and state resources are insufficient and that the situation is beyond recovery capabilities. The FEMA office then provides the president an analysis of the situation and a recommended course of action.
If the area is declared a federal disaster area by the president, 75 percent of the qualifying costs are recoverable with federal funds.