State of Emergency requested by Holmes County commissioners

State of Emergency requested by Holmes County commissioners
Dave Mast

There was plenty of damage suffered to property in all four corners of Holmes County, where the derecho storm proved destructive to anything in its path.


Holmes County suffered a major catastrophe the morning of Tuesday, June 14 when a brutal storm front called a derecho hammered the county, reminding people of the force nature can wield.

In an effort to help the county deal with the resulting damages of the storm, which brought back memories of the 2004 ice storm, the Holmes County commissioners met June 14 to implore the state to seek federal financial aid as part of a state of emergency.

Proclamation #06-16-22-1P stated, “Whereas Holmes County, Ohio has been or is immediately threatened by damage caused by the storm, and, therefore, be it proclaimed that we the Holmes County Board of Commissioners declare that a state of emergency exists in the county, and that we hereby invoke and declare those portions of the Ohio Revised Code which are applicable to the conditions and have caused the issuance of the proclamation, to be in full force and effect in the county for exercise of all necessary emergency authority for protection of lives, and property of the people of Holmes County and the restoration of local government with minimum interruption.”

The proclamation directed all county employees to exercise the utmost diligence in doing their duties, during the duration of the emergency, while also advising all citizens to comply to necessary measures in cooperating with public officials and disaster service forces that were working hard to operate a plan or restoration to the county.

Commissioner Dave Hall said while immediate action is desired by all citizens to seek help from both the state and federal level, the county first had to do its due diligence in assessing the damage to create precise knowledge depicting all the severe damage in Holmes County.

“There are stages of understanding what we are up against,” Hall said. “With the challenges we have in understanding the assessment which we started early on in the process of the team in the commissioner’s office and (Holmes County engineer) Chris Young and all of the elected officials who were a part of the assessment stages of understanding what we were up against.”

He said in the very first hours it became very evident as to the level of destruction the county had been hit with in the two storms, the first which crashed through much of the county near midnight, the second around 4 a.m.

Hall said there was major infrastructure damage across the grid, including widespread blackouts and loss of power that made restoration operations difficult.

Hall said one of the driving forces behind the destruction the county incurred was assessing how hard Holmes County was being hit financially.

He said 36 hours after the storm, having witnessed firsthand the total damages done throughout the county, the commissioners felt very comfortable meeting the criteria to ask the governor to seek funding that would provide federal assistance in the recovery process.

That aid would include FEMA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide aid.

Holmes County Emergency Management Agency director Jason Troyer said restoring power was critical to working toward cleaning up. He also said dealing with the heat wave was a major concern, so the county had six cooling stations where people could come to sit in air conditioning, relax, catch their breath and find some water and a place to recharge their phones and computers.

He said watching all the first responders leap to action and serve their communities in any way possible showed just how devastating the storms were.

He went on to note that the assessment from the damages experienced through the storms will continue for some time, and he note that while it has been devastating, one thing the county wants to gain from this is knowledge.

“One of the most important things we can do in the aftermath of the storms is to learn from them,” Troyer said. “I think we responded in so many great ways, but there is always room to learn and get even better. As we explore how things went and the various ways we tackled each issue, our goal should be to figure how ways we can prepare and improve on limiting the damage.”

He went on to note that he relishes the fact that he is getting little recognition for the relief effort, saying the deserving people are the firefighters, local law enforcement, health field people and electric crews and many others who have made life more bearable in responding quickly and expertly.

Hall said he met with congressman Bob Gibbs, senators Jay Hottinger and Mark Romanchuck and state representative Brett Hillyer.

What happens now as far as state and federal relief is in the hands of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who is being asked to seek federal relief funding for the major financial losses and physical loss suffered in Holmes County.

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