Walk-through of Valley storm damage could help residents rebuild, but may take time

Local News

MAHONING CO., Ohio (WKBN) – As the Valley recovers from heavy rains Wednesday, damage assessments happened Thursday to evaluate destruction caused by storms and flooding last week.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the United States Small Business Association investigated areas of Mahoning County as another step in the long process to find help for victims of the storms.

As inspectors moved from one apartment building to the next, neighbors along Indian Run Drive in Canfield had stories to tell about last week’s flooding.

“My nerves are shot. I’ve had it,” said Janet Vanhorn.

Vanhorn has lived in one of the ground floor apartments for more than 20 years and never witnessed anything like she saw last Tuesday night.

“When the sump pump stopped working, they wouldn’t work anymore, they were overflowed. Then the sewer pipe is down there in the boiler room and it overflowed and it was nothing but sewage,” she said.

The Mahoning County EMA already went door to door in neighborhoods impacted by the storm and turned their findings over to state authorities for relief consideration.

Thursday morning, SBA and EMA teams took a tour of the worst hit areas in Canfield and Boardman townships. They wanted to verify the information given by local officials about damage from last week’s severe weather to determine if a disaster declaration should be made.

“This is for low-interest loans for residents to apply for recovery efforts. Make repairs to their homes or businesses,” said Mahoning County EMA Director Dennis O’Hara.

Some of those loans could be low-interest ReEnergize Ohio and ECO-link loans.

But as bad as the damage appears, local officials have said it’s not likely to meet federal standards for assistance.

Vanhorn admits taking out a loan, regardless of the interest, isn’t going to be something she can afford.

“It’s not, because I’m on Social Security, you know, on a set income,” she said.

Local officials say the process could take some time. Inspectors already have their hands full going through the damage left behind by 21 tornadoes that went through the state last week.

“This could take time because there are steps in the process. It always takes time but they’re trying to expedite as quickly as possible,” O’Hara said.

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