DeWine speaks at Indian Lake

LOGAN CO. — Governor Mike DeWine’s tour of tornado damage at Indian Lake was canceled Tuesday due to impending weather, but he said he was able to view some of the damage on the way in and gave a press conference providing updates on a request for federal relief and warning against expected severe conditions later in the day.

DeWine asked for a major disaster declaration from President Biden last week for the tornados that struck the state earlier this March, but said Tuesday it might be a long time before the decision comes from FEMA.

“Indian Lake is a very special place that is loved by the people who live here and the people who come here during the summer,” he said. “It is imperative that we do everything we can at the state level to be of assistance. But we are told by FEMA that this decision would take a long, long time before we even get to see it.”

The governor said even though there is no guarantee that the federal government would deliver a declaration that would allow for FEMA aid for eligible damages not reimbursed by other programs or insurance, he is looking at a plan for people who were displaced by the storms, among other groups affected.

“Last week, I tasked my cabinet with looking at plans to assist individuals who have lost their homes and who are in a very bad situation, as well as many people who have been displaced and don’t have a place to live,” he said. “We also have businesses that are not able to function. And we have some villagers, who frankly do not have the money.”

DeWine also expressed concern about reports of local hotels and Airbnb’s forcing some of those residents, estimated at 250 currently, out of their arrangements ahead of the April 8 solar eclipse to maintain established bookings.

“I know that’s a problem because people have booked them for a long period of time,” he said. “The good news is they didn’t book it for very long, just a couple of days. But that is a problem for those individuals who are displaced here.”

Logan County Commissioner Joe Antram said the main goal is to find housing for displaced residents.

“I want to say thank you to the governor and representatives for their work to help us find appropriate housing that is comfortable and safe,” he said. “It’s been very gratifying to have support from all around the state at this point; it’s more important than ever. The Indian Lake Community has come together as a team and family to help those in need.”

Fellow commissioner Mark Robinson said he was happy to see the governor make his second visit to the area following the tornado.

“Every elected official, whether it’s local, state or federal, the one thing I’ve been pleased with is their genuine concern,” he said. “They’ve asked what they can do to help and cut the red tape to get the help to people who need it. And I think we’ve heard that from the governor today.”

The Ohio Realtors Association and Ohio Chamber of Commerce both announced funds to support relief to residents of damaged homes and small businesses, respectively.

For more information on the governor’s request for federal aid, follow this link.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.