By Rod Rose The Lebanon Reporter
---- — Boone County is included in a disaster declaration issued Monday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence announced that he was appealing a Dec. 11 denial by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that sought emergency assistance for Howard County following two Nov. 17 EF-2 tornadoes that injured 32 people, and damaged 1,077 homes; 191 of the residences were destroyed or suffered major damage.
That same storm front caused two tornadoes in Boone County, including an EF-2 that battered Lebanon.
Pence is also seeking disaster status for Daviess, Fountain, Grant, Howard and Tippecanoe counties.
Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis was pleased Pence had filed the appeal.“I think we need help; it was a disaster for us, anyway you look at it,” Lewis said Monday afternoon. “There are some people out there who need help.”Pence’s announcement included updated damages to homes in Boone County.
Three homes were destroyed, three sustained major damage, 21 received minor damage, and eight others were affected, Pence said in a letter to President Barack Obama. An initial damage assessment found that 28 homes, all in Lebanon, had been damaged, with five of them destroyed.
The new figures came from a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment conducted on Dec. 16, 17 and 18, by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Small Business Administration, FEMA, and county emergency management agencies, Pence said in a press release.
Three businesses — CNH Industrial Parts and Services, Skjodt-Barrett Foods and a Starbucks restaurant — sustained extensive damage in the tornado that had winds of up to 115 mph. Only two people were hurt.“We continue in our commitment to help Hoosiers who have been devastated by the storms from Nov 17,” Pence said in a press release. “Under FEMA’s guidelines, these counties have the greatest potential for the state to receive federal assistance.”Of the 35 Boone County homes damaged, 78 percent were not insured, Pence said in his letter. Of the residents affected by the tornado, “20 percent were either elderly or disabled,” he said.
Lewis said he hoped that some of the houses could be rebuilt, “or we can start new, somehow.”The governor has requested Individual Assistance, which, if granted, would make homeowners and renters eligible to apply for grants and low-interest loans. Businesses would be eligible to apply for low-interest loans.A request for federal assistance on Dec. 4, 2013, for Howard County was denied by FEMA on Dec. 11.