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Recovering from disaster: 2019 Ohio tornado survivors explain rebuilding process

Ohio tornado Dayton
Posted at 11:54 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 11:47:13-05

DAYTON, Ohio — To get a small sense of what the road to recovery will be like for those in western Kentucky, look to Dayton, Ohio. Deadly tornadoes ripped through the Miami Valley in May 2019.

“Oh my! What happened down there was worse than we ever experienced here,” Dayton resident John Barber said.

Barber owns one of nearly 3,000 homes the Memorial Day tornado hit. His neighborhood was without power for six weeks. More than 200 businesses were impacted.

“We were able to stay in the house through the day with generators — $20, $25 a day for gasoline,” Barber said.

Some streets in the metro area and Trotwood are filled with homes that remain unlivable. Some apartments appear to be untouched since the tornado ripped off roofs and busted through walls, while many homes and businesses completed the rebuilding process.

RELATED: Dayton area tornado outbreak was historic for NWS

Immediately after the storms, owners and renters alike had to wait for insurance adjusters to show up for assessments. Some never received that assistance due to interest obstacles. They are still working to repair their homes slowly on their own.

“Insurance companies fought a lot of these people,” Mike McCarthy said. “You know, they don’t want to give out. I think every first thing for insurance, they say, ‘Deny, deny, deny.’”

By June 18, Montgomery County Emergency Management said residents could apply for FEMA short-term recovery assistance. In Kentucky’s case, emergency management said individuals should be eligible immediately because of the Presidential emergency declaration.

“FEMA does help a lot, but you do have to deal with a government,” said Virginia Doran. “So, you're dealing with forms, paperwork and proof.”

It took about a year or year and a half for workers to finish rebuilding the first properties. Emergency management did not immediately have an estimate on how long it would take to fully rebuild.

“I shudder to think of just what is going to happen to a lot of those people,” Barber said. "They’re going to be living in motel rooms for months before they can even get a contractor who has time to talk to them.”

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