GEORGETOWN — On Monday, July 20, the Brown County Emergency Management Agency held an emergency operations briefing meeting, featuring officials from the Ohio EMA, Brown County Health Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Brown County Commissioners, Rumpke and the Brown County Engineer’s Office.
The meeting came a little more than 36 hours following deadly flash floods that killed three people in Ripley and caused damage to roads, bridges and culverts across the county.
In addition to the local representatives from across Brown County, the meeting included a guest, Jim Dinkel, a Lutheran pastor and the chair of the Tri-State COAD, which stands for Community Organizations Active in Disasters.
Dinkel advised the group of officials on disaster recovery efforts and the importance of providing long-term disaster relief.
Dinkel saidd that with long-term recovery projects, he uses the numbers seven, 70 and 700. Seven days is the fall-out and emergency repairs and recovery from the initial incident. Seventy days is the amount of time for individuals or municipalities to apply or file claims for relief with insurance companies or state or federal aid. It’s also the main clean-up phase.
Lastly, 700 days is where communities and organizations work on rebuilding homes or roads or their lives back to where they once were.
“I would assume with the amount of homes that we have and the damage that’s there, the long-term recovery committee is going to last about 18 months, until you get everything tied up,” Dinkel said.
Dinkel said that the Tri-State COAD would bring in a number of Christian charity groups and nonprofit groups to help raise money and bring volunteers for the clean-up and recovery effort.
According to Beth Nevel, the director of Brown County public safety services, nearly all of the homes damaged by the floods are uninsured and unable to receive state aid.
“We are probably at 95 percent uninsured on these damages as it comes to our homes,” Nevel said. “In order to get state individual assistance, it requires 25 homes with major or totally destroyed without insurance. This disaster, although horrific because of the life loss, does not meet that criteria.
“Our community, our region, is going to be responsible if we’re going to help our citizens. They’re going to depend on family, neighbors and community to come help.”
Phil Clayton, Ohio EMA southwest region supervisor, said that as of July 20, he inspected and found some sort of damage in 34 homes on Ripley Road in Union Township, just north of the Village of Ripley.
As of press time, two more homes had been discovered in the area that were damaged by the flooding, according to Nevel.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s preliminary damage assessment guidelines, homes damaged by flooding are characterized in four categories: destroyed, major damage, minor damage, and affected.
A destroyed home is one with the failure of two or more structural components to the residence, making the home uninhabital. Major damage is when 18 inches of water is recorded on the first floor, not including a basement. Minor damage is three to 18 inches of water recorded on the first floor, and affected damage is flooding less than three inches in the home.
But as Nevel explained, not only were not enough homes suffering major damage or worse, but 95 percent of the homes lacked flood insurance, which is separate from homeowners or renters insurance.
Brown County Engineer Todd Cluxton said at the meeting that after reviewing and visiting around 30 sites that had damaged roads, bridges and culverts in Brown County, an early rough estimate of the costs associated with the repairs was $600,000.
“I wouldn’t say we’re 60 to 70 percent complete reviewing everything, that’s not necessarily 60 to 70 percent of the money for the damage, but I’d say by Wednesday or Thursday we’ll have everything looked at,” Cluxton said.
As of press time, according to Cluxton, the cost estimate had risen to $792,000.
The floods damaged State Route 125 just west of Georgetown, Old U.S. 68, Ripley Road, Day Hill Arnheim Road, and Maynard Road, among many others. Cluxton identified 39 different roads or bridges with eroded embankments, debris in the road, or missing pavement.