Miller: Irma’s worst to miss Ohio

Hurricane Irma is not expected to significantly impact Delaware County.

That’s the word from Sean Miller, Delaware County Emergency Management Agency director, who updated the county commissioners Monday about the massive storm that swept through Florida over the weekend after devastating several island nations in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea last week.

“As of this morning at 8 a.m., the National Weather Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm,” he said. It appears the storm “will continue its northwest track” impacting Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee. “It looks as if the worst of it will miss Ohio at this time.”

Miller said he has been tracking the toll of the storm and put it into perspective for the commissioners.

“At least five people had been killed in Florida with over 30 total. Six-point-five million in Florida are under a mandatory evacuation. Four million are without power. Five hundred and thirty shelters are open in Florida with 116,000 people in those shelters currently,” he said. “Ohio has been working on a request to send approximately 3,500 Ohio National Guard personnel to Florida and I think they will they will be deploying in the next few days.”

Miller said people want to know how they can help, donate, or volunteer. He said the best way was through already-established nonprofit organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way, or faith-based organizations.

“Do it through those proper channels because they are established and you know the money is going to go those that are impacted,” he said.

Miller said his department will place sign in various county buildings over the next few days to collect donations.

“Cash is the best,” Miller said. “They can put cash where it’s most needed.”

Miller also emphasized that individuals not take it upon themselves to self-deploy, but work with an established group that will match skill sets to the area’s needs.

“That holds true for first responders as well as the public acting in the role as volunteers,” he said.

Miller said he knew of people from the county who went to help with Harvey, but has not heard of anyone going to Florida as of yet.

“I think the the Ohio Emergency Management Association is working very closely with the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association which has in place an emergency response plan for mutual aid and sending resources,” he said. “They’re coordinating very closely on Irma and I think they are even having daily calls back and forth.”

He said if resources are needed it will all be “coordinated in comprehensive manner.”

Miller said the EMA of Ohio was asked to put together a list of EMA directors that could go to Florida to assist in the crisis.

“We have group of six that could go down,” he said. “Now we’re just waiting for a specific request to come in, again we’re not self deploying, we’re just waiting to see if that call will come in. We’re ready to go. I think it will be a great opportunity and I know we’re all very much of the mind set that we want to help if we can.”

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By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.