FORT WAYNE – Hard hit by severe storms that have wreaked havoc on the area, local government officials have taken the first step in seeking state and federal assistance.
The Allen County commissioners set the wheels in motion Monday by amending their original July 2 emergency declaration to include both the ongoing drought and recent storms that have pummeled the area. Indiana law requires a state of emergency be ratified within seven days for it to remain in effect
The county experienced extensive property damage from high winds and severe weather on June 29 and again on July 5 – leaving about 78,000 without power, some for nearly a week.
The matter now goes to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said Bernie Beier, director of the county’s Department of Homeland Security.
Much of last week was spent assessing the damage and collecting data on losses suffered by residents and businesses, Beier said.
This week will be spent assessing damage to local government – Allen County and all cities and towns within the county, Beier said.
Federal guidelines require the state to first be eligible for disaster relief and show losses of nearly $9 million before it can be declared a disaster area at the federal level.
To be able to receive aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, each county must then show losses of $1.2 million or more. Those estimated costs must be above and beyond normal costs incurred during an emergency – such as equipment rental, damage to infrastructure or government property, overtime or employing private contractors such as tree specialists to help clean up, Beier said.
According to the county’s declaration, “damage inflicted by the storm will warrant a prolonged cleanup and recovery process to restore power, provide safe transportation, and remove any trees or debris that could further cause considerable hardship for the citizens of Allen County.”
Although the county has never applied for federal assistance for two emergencies at the same time, the dry weather that has gripped the entire state may be the next federal assistance plea for the state, Beier said.
All 92 counties in Indiana are experiencing abnormally dry conditions and much of northeast Indiana has been classified as being in an area of “extreme drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
An emergency order was issued by the commissioners on June 15 for the severe dry weather and a burn ban for the entire county remains in effect until further notice.
To report damage
- Residents and businesses wishing to report storm and property damage should visit in.gov/dhs and fill out a claim application.