Utilities, homeowners and businesses coping with storm damage

Jul 2, 2012

Utility crews continue to work to restore power to the some 660-thousand customers affected by storms that ripped through the state Friday afternoon.  another 20-thousand lost power when a second storm system moved through Sunday night. 

American Electric Power warns that some Columbus-area customers won't have electricity restored until this weekend.  Manwhile, high temperatures projected through the week are creating even mjore hardships for some people.  Columbus mayor Michael Coleman authorized turing on selected fire hydrants this afternoon to help kids beat the heat, and announced that nearly a dozen air-conditioned recreation centers will be open from 9am to 6pm today and tomorrow.
The Ohio Insurance Institutes Mitch Wlson says tree damage during the recent storm is as bad as it was years ago when Hurricane Ike came through Ohio.  In an interview with Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, Wlson advises what to do if you have a tree or limbs down on your property:

MW: If it's affecting a power line and/or you smell gas or any type of fumes leaking, you need to get in touch with the authories right away.  You need to get in touch with the power company, your power company.  You also need to get in touch with your gas company if it's a gas line.  You need to use these things... And you have to leave the premises; do not stay there if you see these things down.  You want to exit and get out of there right away.

JI: If this doesn't involve power lines or gas fumes or anything like that, and you've just got big huge hunks of trees in your yard, it's pretty much up to the homeowner to take care of those; insurance doesn't take care of those, right?

MW: That is correct.  If a tree.. if it's your tree, your neighbor's tree, whatever... if any type of a tree or limb or whatever is in your yard, and has not damaged your property -- and when I refer to property I'm referring to your home, a garage, a attached fence that goes all the way around you property that's attached to the house -  if it has not damaged anything then, yes; it's up to the homeowner to remove that debris on their own.

Wilson says it's doubtful insurance will cover the cost of replacing the fallen or damaged tree.

Small business owners, farmers and other Ohioans affected by severe weather this weekend might be eligible for interest rate reductions on loans to recover or rebuild from the storm damage.  The state has made $25 million available through the state's Renew Ohio & Rebuild Ohio emergency financing programs to help storm victims. The treasurer's office said small business
owners and farmers can apply for up to a three percent interest rate reduction on new or existing loans for construction or to improve cash flow. Homeowners who suffered severe damage or loss can also seek a three percent interest rate reduction.