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Cincinnati Moving To Flood Cleanup Efforts

Bill Rinehart
Two days after it crested, the Ohio River was still covering much of Smale Riverfront Park.

Cincinnati officials are declaring a state of emergency as flood cleanup begins, but it's not a bad thing.
"This is not being done due to any imminent public safety threat," said City Manager Harry Black at a news conference in the East End. "Rather it allows us to operate as quickly and nimbly as possible to return the affected areas back to normal."

The declaration makes the process easier to bring flooded areas back to life. That includes assessing damaged buildings, re-opening closed roads, and clearing debris from parks and recreation facilities along the Ohio River.

Assistant Fire Chief Anson Turley discussed the process of disaster assessment.

"It gives us a complete picture of the damage," Turley said. "Once we have an idea of what the problem is and its scope, then we can work on the solution."

Those preliminary assessments should be completed early next week.

Starting Thursday morning, a group of nine city inspectors will look at nearly 1,000 structures affected by high water.

The damage runs from Coney Island to Sayler Park, with many of the affected properties in California and the East End.

"The inspectors that are inspecting these properties from a damage assessment perspective, they're going to carry those properties as all of the renovations occur," said Building and Inspection Director Art Dahlburg. "So, there will be that singular point of contact for the resident and it will be a great source of information as they're working through the challenges of restoring their lives."

The city is opening a temporary facility at the LeBlond Recreation Center on Riverside Drive in the East End to help people with renovation building permits.

The city is waiving permit fees if the work is necessitated because of the high water. Permits are not required for cleanup and debris removal. They are required if structural repairs are needed.

Cincinnati will submit its preliminary damage assessment numbers to Hamilton County, who will then present them to state officials.

Turley said the Hamilton County threshold for state assistance is $3.2 million in uninsured damage to public facilities or response to the flooding.

For financial aid to private individuals, the city and county have to show that at least 25 structures suffered major or total damage.

If those thresholds are met it opens the possibility of small business loans or assistance grants.

The city setup a special website for residents needing assistance with flooding issues. You can also call 513-591-6000 for help.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.