DARKE COUNTY — In light of the heavy rains that struck Darke County early last week, many area residents and business owners continue the process of assessing flood damage and cleaning up.
Mindy Saylor, director of Darke County Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said her office has received many calls from residents of flood-damaged homes and businesses in the area.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook,” she said.
Saylor reported that as of Thursday afternoon, 42 homes or businesses were classified as “affected” by flooding, with 24 categorized as “minor” and three as suffering “major” damage.
The Ohio EMA describes an “affected” dwelling as one with less than 3 inches of water in an occupied or required room.
Buildings with “minor” damage have been flooded with 3 to 18 inches of water, while a water level exceeding 18 inches is needed for classifying a structure as sustaining “major” damage.
Saylor emphasized that the “minor” classification can be misleading.
“We understand that, to a resident, 3 to 18 inches of water is certainly not ‘minor’ damage,” she said.
Working for the EMA for more than 16 years and serving as director for three years, Saylor said she had not seen flooding of this magnitude.
“To my knowledge, this is the worst flooding we’ve had in the county since 1980,” she recalled.
However, Saylor said the number of structures damaged by water still falls far below the threshold required for federal intervention.
“In order to receive federal assistance,” she said, “the area would have to see at least 25 homes or businesses destroyed.”
For financial recourse, the EMA director encourages flood-affected citizens to first contact their insurance companies.
“Don’t assume you do or do not have flood insurance,” she advised. “Call your insurance company and find out for sure.”
One source providing assistance to flood-stricken residents is the local Red Cross.
Lynne Gump, executive director of the Darke County chapter of the American Red Cross, confirmed that caseworkers were in the process of working with individuals families to determine their immediate and long-term recovery needs.
“The assessment was completed by our volunteers on Wednesday. We began sending out caseworkers Thursday,” she said. “We still have a lot of footwork to do, though. The flooding instances were isolated and spread apart, but this is what we train and prepare for.”
Gump reported that though some residents had been dislocated from their homes, none had sought shelter with the Red Cross.
Part of the Red Cross effort includes distributing free clean-up kits. The kits contain a variety of cleaning supplies, including mops, buckets, sponges, rubber gloves, squeegees, bleach, various disinfectants, and more.
The kits can be delivered to residents or picked up at the Red Cross headquarters in Greenville. Those seeking information may call 937-548-1002.
Saylor said she was encouraged by the response of the people of Darke County.
“We ask that residents continue to help each other, help their neighbors. If we continue to do so, we will prevail,” she said.
Saylor asked those with unreported flood damage to contact her agency by phone at 937-316-8902.