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McMasters updates commissioners on West Lafayette flood

| June 27, 2019

COSHOCTON – Rob McMasters, director of the Coshocton County Emergency Management Agency, attended the Coshocton County Commissioners Wednesday, June 26 meeting to update them on the flood clean-up in West Lafayette.

At 11:38 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, a flash flood warning was announced for Coshocton County and surrounding areas. Not long after McMasters received that warning, the sheriff’s office called advising him that Lafayette Mills Apartment Complex had been flooded. McMasters arrived in the village at 12:20 a.m. and shortly after, received a call from Tim Callahan, disaster program manager with the Southeast Ohio American Red Cross and said a shelter needed to be open. About 60 people were evacuated from the apartment complex.

McMasters said that the fire and police departments are to be commended for their work that night.

“I am very impressed by their proficiency and their professionalism with getting them [evacuees] out of there with no injuries and no deaths,” said McMasters.

Fifty people stayed in the shelter at the First Baptist Church throughout the night. By morning, all had been picked up by family and friends, so the shelter closed.

As the night went on, more flooding was reported. Sandbags from the fire station were used at the junior high to block more water from entering the school.

Rick Warren, supervisor with Ohio EMA, conducted a preliminary assessment of damaged homes with Troy Cole, deputy director of Coshocton County EMA.

“Troy did an outstanding job,” said McMasters. “He took on many tasks that enabled me to do my tasks at that time.”

However, the assessment did not meet the criteria of the Small Business Administration Damage Assessment Criteria. This criteria states that 25 structures must have at least 40 percent damage to the structure and that there needs to be at least two to five feet of water in the main living area of the house. McMasters said that most homes had damage in the basement and that only five or six of the 10 homes damaged would be considered to meet this criteria.

“We are doing everything that we can to bring whatever assistance we can to the village,” said McMasters. “There’s been a tremendous amount of support to this community. It’s been the gold star of this event.”

The village would need to meet the SBA requirements before the governor would even consider applying for federal help. The criteria set by the SBA is established by the state and federal government.

“This has been my nightmare from day one of this job that something like this would happen and we would not be able to get the funding we need,” said McMasters. “As you can tell, this has had a physical and emotional toll on me. I’m not telling them, sorry, you’re on your own. We will get as much assistance to them as they need.”

McMasters said he is also impressed with the township trustees who were going door-to-door to see what the residents needed. Other county EMA directors also offered their assistance.

Township Road 1203 saw a significant amount of water which had to be pumped across County Road 16 so the homes in that area could be accessed. State Route 751 still has standing water and McMasters advised residents to stay away from the area.

“We can’t stress enough to stay out of the flood water,” said McMasters.

The dumpsters became available to the village on Friday. Three dumpsters were set out and in less than two hours, all three were filled. Around 30 dumpsters were circulated and Lity Scrap Services covered the cost of 13 dumpsters. The commissioners pledged to cover the cost of the remaining dumpsters.

As of Wednesday morning, Coshocton County EMA has committed over 103 hours to the flooding in West Lafayette and Ohio EMA has put in 30 hours locally. The amateur radio has supplied 55 hours in the office for EMA as they answered phone calls and monitored the weather.

“This is the biggest thing I have had in my 10 years as an EMA director and I hope I never have to go through anything like this again,” said McMasters.

The commissioners commended McMasters on his work during the flood.

“We put people like you and Troy in these positions to deal with these types of situations hoping that you never have to,” said Gary Fischer. “I give you guys a lot of credit for what you’ve done for Coshocton County.”

Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County was also at the commissioners’ meeting to introduce two new employees, Alonna Hoffman and Collette Burdette. They also are asking for a levy renewal of .4 mill which generates $285,000 to $290,000 annually. This will be a five-year levy and would be used to cover the majority of salaries, office supplies, travel funds, etc.

“We have a lot of great support, not only from the rural farming community, but because of all the programs we do in the local school districts, we reach a large audience,” said Emily Marrison, OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator. “We’re always encouraged by the people we get to teach and work with.”

Ida Szulewski of the census bureau gave a presentation on the importance of filling out a census when it comes around every 10 years. She said that the United States census was established in 1790 and that it distributes 675 billion allocated to state and local government which is used for new roads, schools, and new jobs.

The census results last for 10 years and the goal is to count all residents once in the county in which they live. Residents can complete the census online at census.gov, over the phone, or fill out a paper copy and return. Szulewski said that it helps communities receive their fair share of funding.

Danny Brenneman, director of Coshocton County Job and Family Service, met with the commissioners to ask for signatures on changes to their JFS Classification Table. The commissioners also reviewed the Title XX county profile.

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Category: Government

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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