TOLEDO, OH – The Lucas County Commissioners continue to push for improvements at the state level to ensure communities across Ohio are adequately prepared for the threat of severe weather and counties are equipped to respond appropriately in the event a natural disaster occurs.
The Commissioners at their 11 a.m. Board meeting today passed a resolution urging state leaders to permit an expanded use of County Prevention, Retention, and Contingency (PRC) funds to better assist individuals and families across the state when a natural disaster strikes.
Every county has a PRC plan that allows local officials to meet the needs of families and seniors who are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding in the event of an emergency. The goal is to ensure that an unforeseen emergency does not cause a long-term financial burden to households.
The Commissioners, though Resolution No. 2023-514, amended Lucas County’s PRC plan to better assist eligible residents impacted by the June 15 tornado. Since then, Lucas County Job and Family Services has received 315 applications, with 192 of them receiving approval so far.
But what the Commissioners found when responding to Point Place residents impacted by the storm was that the available assistance was not enough. Resolution No. 2023-561, passed today, urges Governor DeWine and state lawmakers to set aside additional state resources in the PRC budget to assist counties across Ohio when natural disasters strike.
Additional funding would allow Counties to increase their maximum payout of PRC funds to better serve residents in need without cutting funding from other crucial County programs.
“It’s budget time in the state legislature, and we’re urging our state leaders to set aside money that can quickly be deployed should there be a natural disaster anywhere in Ohio,” Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said. “It’s important that these funds be separate from a county’s annual TANF allocation so we can continue delivering our other social services programs effectively.”
Commissioner Pete Gerken said: “When an event entirely outside of your control brings unforeseen costs, it’s important that local governments are able to deliver financial aid quickly, especially to our most vulnerable residents. We know the state has the available funds to expand disaster assistance, and we urge them to take action.”
The Commissioners also want to see improvements in the systems intended to warn residents of potential weather disasters.
The Board sent a letter to the National Weather Service (see attached) expressing its concerns with the delayed and confusing reports received before, during, and after the severe weather event on June 15 that produced more than a dozen tornadoes in Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio.
“This storm caused significant and devastating destruction. Roofs were ripped off homes, garages collapsed, car windows were smashed, trees were twisted across front lawns, small businesses were damaged, and hundreds were left without power for days,” Commissioner Lisa A. Sobecki said. “As we recover from this destructive storm, our community is asking why they had no warning of what was headed their way. We are, too.”
The Board is awaiting the results of the National Weather Service’s internal review of the event, which is currently underway.