Nick McWilliams reporting – Following extensive storm damage, Tuscarawas County has officially declared a state of emergency, and will now pursue state and federal relief dollars.

Tuscarawas County Emergency Management Agency Director Alex McCarthy attended the most recent commissioners meeting, highlighting findings by the National Weather Service during surveys in damaged areas.

The most heavily impacted areas included Gnadenhutten, Newport, Baltic, and Stone Creek, along with surrounding townships, with the strongest winds likely topping 100 miles per hour.

McCarthy says that under Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines, the county will not see individual assistance for homeowners, but the county could see some relief for public-owned buildings and spaces.

“When we have tornadoes or wind events, it becomes difficult to actually reach the thresholds to get state disaster relief funding or FEMA funding for homeowners. Just because insurance rates tend to be higher [for certain other coverages.] I believe since 2000, there have been two events where we’ve had insurance for wind events.”

Under the FEMA guidelines, an area is eligible for individual assistance if 25 or more uninsured or underinsured homes receive extensive damage or are destroyed in a storm.

McCarthy says that following the analysis by the NWS, the damage extended from Bucks to Mill Township, and the presence of three Derecho-type storms in a span of a few days is highly unusual.

“Last week was kind of unique because we had a 1-2-3 punch. Typically, when we see Derechos in Ohio, and about once every 10 years we see a really strong one, we follow that up with some form of heat wave. That’s compounded with the fact that with heavy winds, you tend to see a lot of power outages. Especially in communities like ours, where you have so many trees.”

The storm extended from Michigan, down through Ohio and into more southern states, with portions going as far down as Louisiana.

Local businesses that received damage to property from the storms are urged to contact the Tusc County EMA to report their issues.

McCarthy adds that in order to receive the public assistance, a total of $383,000 of storm damage will have to be recorded, something staff members have been compiling over the last week.

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