Xenia, OH -- The city of Xenia plans to incorporate disaster-resistant features into city buildings being repaired and rebuilt in the wake of last month's severe storms and tornado, federal and state disaster officials said today.
Public Assistance was added to the disaster declaration issued by President Clinton on September 26, making communities in Greene County eligible to receive reimbursements for damage to public facilities, such as roads, bridges, buildings and utilities, and for emergency protective measures and debris clearance. Federal, state and local funds will be used to pay for these projects under the public assistance program, which is designed to help cover infrastructure losses.
At the top of the list are proposals for the reconstruction of the Xenia Service Center and buildings lost at the county fairgrounds.
The Xenia Service Center, heavily damaged in the September storms, includes an administrative office area and an attached garage. More than 50 city employees are at this location, though more than half of those are not in the center during regular working hours. Reconstruction plans for the center include renovating an existing conference room in the administrative area for use as a "safe room" as well. The room will be large enough to accommodate all employed on the site and is estimated to cost $19,000.
"Once a scope of work is outlined for reconstruction of the service center, we hope to rebuild in a way that best meets the needs of our employees and, at the same time, provide safe shelter in the storms and high winds that so often plague our area," Xenia City Manager James Percival said while announcing the project. "We are going about our planning with safety as our utmost concern."
Improving safety is a concern shared by Craig Saunders, who sits on the board of directors of the Greene County Agricultural Society. "Safe rooms" are planned for the multi-use building at the fairgrounds. "These shelters will serve as public restrooms in areas where a variety of community activities will be available. They will be large, 20 by 20 feet each, easily accessible and cost about $38,000 in all - a small price to pay when in comes to the safety of our citizens," Saunders said.
"We know that public assistance will play an important role in the Xenia recovery effort, just as the individual assistance will help tornado victims rebuild safer and better," FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Lou Botta said. "To that end, the federal government will cover 75 percent of the proposed mitigation costs, and the state has agreed to pay another 12.5 percent. That state share amount will be matched by the city of Xenia and the Greene County Agricultural Society. This is a great example of the kind of partnership FEMA encourages and supports with Project Impact."
Removing people from harm's way and supporting the development of disaster-resistant communities is a critical element of Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities, a nationwide disaster prevention initiative started in 1997 by FEMA Director James Lee Witt. Through Project Impact, towns and cities are taking steps to prevent damage before disasters strike.
More than 120 communities and 1,000 business partners throughout the country are participating in this effort. Four Ohio communities currently are participating in the program - Licking County, Medina County, Colerain Township in Hamilton County and the city of Westerville in Franklin County.