In the aftermath of the straight-line winds that roared across Ohio last June 29 through July 2 Logan County along with 37 Ohio counties were designated Disaster area by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After the FEMA initial assessment and assistance the U.S. Department of Labor offers further help through the National Emergency Grant program. The NEG program funds an employment training and work program for unemployed or underemployed workers to gain employment skills while working to clean up debris from the storms. In Logan County that work will focus on cleaning tree debris in the streams and waterways to decrease or eliminate subsequent flooding from tree jammed streams.
Funds for National Emergency Grants are channeled through local Job and Family Services Office while the actual job training and clean-up activities are either contracted out or operated by a county agency with that experience. The Logan County Solid Waste District operated an NEG grant and program following the ice storm of 2005. With that background the Solid
Waste District again stepped up to apply for an NEG grant to clean waterways of storm debris with special focus on the waterways in the City of Bellefontaine and the Great Miami River. The initial grant received by the Logan County Solid Waste District is $998,777.44 and expectations are that the work of clearing debris will take longer than a year and further funding may be available.
Marshaling the necessary equipment and vehicles to accomplish the clean up task has taken nearly two months. Participants for the employment training program have been screened by Job and Family Services for eligibility for the program and 14 are now hired to begin training and work. Five full time professionals have also been hired to operate the program. Training began on December 31, 2012. Pictured above are several of the participants on an initial training day operating heavy equipment and cutting logs. As the training progresses the participants will be divided into two crews, a land crew and a water crew, each focused on clearing tree debris and broken and dangerous tree limbs from waterways, streets and roads, parks, and cemeteries throughout Logan County.
Participants will be training in many practical skills plus safety and emergency procedures. Workers are limited to 6 month in the program and then need to move on to regular employment. The experience of NEG workers from the 2005 Ice Storm disaster lead dozens of them to full time employment.