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Miami Valley Tornadoes: Emergency Assistance Available To Low-Income Ohioans in Disaster Areas

Celina, in Mercer County, was particularly hard hit by Monday night's tornado.
Jason Reynolds
Celina, in Mercer County, was particularly hard hit by Monday night's tornado.

Cleanup from this week’s devastating tornadoes continues around the Miami Valley. More than 130 people remain in emergency shelters. Now, low-income Ohioans affected by the disaster may be eligible for temporary emergency assistance through a special Ohio Department of Job and Family Services program.

The assistance is available for qualifying low-income people affected by the tornadoes in Montgomery, Greene and Mercer counties, where Gov. Mike DeWine has declared a state of emergency.

Bret Crow is with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and says the funding is designed to help low-income storm victims and tornado-affected families pay for repairs, or replace lost clothing, personal or household items, including appliances.

“For short-term uses, and to help people during crisis events, which is certainly the case here with the tornadoes that touched down in that part of the state,” he says.

Crow says the state is also offering additional temporary emergency assistance to families that receive food assistance SNAP benefits.

People in any county could be eligible for replacement benefits if they lost food as a result of an extended power outage. Replacement benefits may then be added to their Ohio Direction cards, in an amount not exceeding their total monthly allocation, officials say.

“Over the last few days, we’ve seen the true Ohio spirit emerging as neighbors help neighbors, families come together, and even strangers reach out to offer support,” said Gov. DeWine in a statement. “Hopefully, this additional assistance will help provide reassurance to struggling families.”

The state is expected to distribute $150,000 in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Disaster Assistance to each of the affected counties to help low-income families, pregnant women and children who were adversely affected by the storms, and another $25,000 in assistance to each county to help childless individuals age 55 or older, and disabled people who were adversely affected by the storms.

Agencies in Montgomery, Greene and Mercer counties will determine the specific eligibility requirements and applicants' benefits based on critical needs.

Assistance is limited. State officials are asking low-income people affected by the storm to apply at their county Job and Family Services agency before June 10, in person or online.

Click here for a list of county agency contact information.

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Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding Americainitiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.