The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 28, 2013

Local EMS and other like entities responsible for disaster preparedness in Ashtabula County

Imagine living through the worst of a massive natural disaster. You’ve stocked up on food, water and other necessary survival items but your home has been hit hard. Your family is evacuated to a shelter. You are grateful that your family is safe but when the weather no longer threatens, you return to your home or business to find it uninhabitable. There is no power, and no way normal life will resume for a long time.

The aftermath of a natural disaster is often as bad or worse than the disaster itself. People’s lives are ruined, and even the infrastructures and economies of entire communities are destroyed. When the rebuilding begins, the cost is often staggering. But who pays for it?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, will pick up much of the tab for rebuilding vital roadways and many buildings, and insurance companies will pay for damage to insured homes and businesses. EMS and other emergency mitigation entities will attempt to keep people safe, and utility companies will restore power.

Here in Ashtabula County this only covers a fraction of disaster preparedness costs. Although the Ashtabula County Emergency Management Agency

has an operating budget of $300,000 per year, the actual costs of preparedness and mitigation are much higher. According to Ashtabula EMA Director George Sabo, much of the real work of disaster preparedness, rescue and mitigation goes to local EMS and other like entities. It is difficult to attach an annual figure because there are so many EMS units with firefighters, search and rescue teams, SWAT and hazardous mitigations teams in the county and budgets vary from year to year based on tax revenues as well as federal grants.

“I can only estimate that number must be well into the millions of dollars in Ashtabula County alone,” Sabo said. “There’s a lot of response training and equipment and it costs money.”

These high-end payouts go for more than local preparedness, mitigation and rescue. Insurance companies pay plenty for the aftermath of bad weather. Some examples include the $292 million in paid insurance losses to Ohioans after Superstorm Sandy in 2012-2013, the $44.2 million paid after January winter storms in 2005 with more than 14,000 claimants across northeast Ohio, and the $18.1 million paid out when tornadoes swept through northeast Ohio in September of 2010. These are only a few examples. The list includes scores of cases where millions of dollars were paid for storm damages in Ohio alone.

Mary Bonelli of the Ohio Insurance Institute said these figures only include payments for wind and other damages incurred during inclement weather, and do not include claims for flooding related damages.

“Claims for flood damage don’t apply to most homeowners’ policies,” she said. “Flood damage is something they must insure themselves for separately.”

Bonelli said claims for flooding damage through those policies probably equaled those from regular homeowners’ policies, especially in places near rivers and lakes.

Ashtabula County is susceptible to flood damage because of its Lake Erie shoreline and many rivers. Ashtabula received no money from FEMA during Superstorm Sandy because it was not as severe here and did not cross the Federal damage threshold, like Cuyahoga County did. But it did receive $646,346 in FEMA assistance for 315 individual damage applications from Ashtabula County residents after the storms and flooding of July 2006. FEMA pays up to 75 percent of the cost of repairing buildings and utility facilities.  

George Sabo said Ashtabula County’s Emergency Management Agency spent much of its time and money cutting trenches and water alleviation ditches and repairing culverts during that 2006 event. He said Ashtabula County was not as seriously impacted as Lake County, but things still “…weren’t pretty.”

“This is where preparedness is as important as mitigation,” Sabo said of Ashtabula County’s flooding problems. “Property on the Grand or Ashtabula River, or right on Lake Erie is often very beautiful. But it’s not wise to build or locate there.”

Text Only
Local News
  • james wyman.jpg BEAT OF HIS OWN DRUM Lakeside graduate is right at home as timpanist with Baltimore Symphony Symphony

    It was a Tuesday morning in Baltimore not unlike many days here in Ashtabula County this past winter. The weather was the story of the day. Talk of wind chill, snow advisories and reports of delays and cancellations filled the topic of conversation in this East Coast city.
    James Wyman, however was still able to get to work though. Well, kind of, that is.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • db monday Sunrise Service.jpg Local churches celebrate at sunrise

    People of all ages gathered at Oakdale Cemetery at the break of dawn Sunday to celebrate at Easter sunrise service.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • monday APL pic.jpg Donate-to-win will aid shelter

    The Ashtabula County Animal Protective League reports that it started 2013 nearly $60,000 in debt, but finished the year “in the black by nearly $10,000” and reduced expenses by roughly $5,000.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Madison man dies in motorcycle crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal accident between a car and a motorcycle that collided Saturday morning.
    Lee E. Mullins, 57, of Madison was traveling southbound on State Route 528, on a 2000 Suzuki motorcycle, approaching the intersection of St. Rt. 86, when a 2008 Ford Taurus driven by 36-year-old Kimberly J. Baney of Wampum, Pa. failed to yield at the stop sign entering the intersection.

    April 21, 2014

  • Spring is a time of renewal

    Spring is a time of renewal. A time for the ground to warm and the bulbs to bloom. Trees clothe themselves with a new coat of leaves.

    April 21, 2014

  • wd sunday race 1 .jpg Mad Hatters tradition continues with Metroparks

    Mexican sombreros, large cardboard cars and multi-colored hats were just a few of the unique headgear possibilities used by the more than 200 participants in the Grand River Canoe and Kayak Race on Saturday morning.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • wd sunday lakegg 12 .jpg Lake Shore Park Easter egg hunt draws hundreds

    Eight thousand eggs littered a portion of the parking lot at Lake Shore Park on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of children lined up to take their run at a full container of candy.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd sunday eggstrava 4 .jpg ADDA brings Easter fun to Ashtabula area children

    Children took advantage of the opportunity to hang out with the Easter bunny and have their faces painted on Saturday afternoon at Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius Park.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_7651.jpg School property could be given to N. Kingsville

    When North Kingsville Elementary School becomes a memory this summer, the property could be reborn as a village park, officials said.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday drug raid 2 .jpg Good Friday raid nets drugs, dogs and money in Ashtabula

    It was not a “Good Friday” for two West 38th Street residents.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
Good Friday Cross Walks and Easter Egg Hunts
Spring Comes Alive
Ashtabula Spring Cleaning
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
Saturday Fun in Ashtabula County March 22, 2014
American Red Cross Ashtabula County Heroes Breakfast
Rotary Club Dodge Ball Tournament
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
End of year weather extremes
Christmas 2013
Harpersfield Barn Fire
Route 11 Rescue Plymouth Township
Ashtabula Fire
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday