Community listens to tornado recovery updates
STEVENSVILLE — Kent Island residents gathered at Matapeake Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 23, filling the majority of the chairs and bleachers in the school’s gymnasium, and listened to county, state and federal government officials provide updates on how the area was recovering from a July tornado.
Dave Rivett, chief of Emergency Management for Queen Anne’s County, began the two-hour meeting — the second of its kind in a month — by introducing elected officials, government employees and distinguished guests.
Like the Aug. 2 tornado recovery town hall meeting, community members had the opportunity to come to the microphone to express questions and concerns regarding community and home recovery options after the EF-2 tornado ripped apart and tossed around tree limbs, power lines and portions of homes in the early hours of July 24.
State Sen. Steve Hershey said he and his colleagues would help any way they could. Dealing with the Maryland Insurance Commissioners often, Hershey said they might be able to assist with those issues.
A Kent Island resident who rents a property in the damaged area, who didn’t provide her name, had questions about what to do with unresponsive landlords. As a renter, she said it was tough to get action done on the land. The lady was told to look into landlord tenant laws and the consumer protection agency with the Attorney General’s office might be able to help.
Hershey offered assistance as he said the state deals with most landlord laws.
Speaking on behalf of the public school system, Brad Engel, supervisor of student support services, said families are encouraged to reach out to him and his office with any concerns regarding the beginning of the school year and their children. Whether transportation issues, anything with attendance or enrollment as well as how to receive services while at school, Engel said to call.
“I know that there are a lot of children that have been impacted and affected by this event,” he said.
Superintendent of Schoold Dr. Andrea Kane asked Engel and staff to create a plan with school counselors, psychologists and staff so when students arrive public school personnel will be ready. Engel said counselors are working on “look-fors” as students react differently to events depending on age.
Repeating what he said at the Aug. 2 town hall meeting, Planning and Zoning Director Mike Wisnoski told the packed room about his office’s role in the recovery and reminded people they might need permits to complete some of the work. Wisnoski said processes might be expedited as much as possible. He said though permits might be necessary, not all work needs one during the rebuilding period.
“We stand ready to assist you folks as you start going through the process of getting your funding from your insurance company, and what you need to do as far as obtaining a permit to rebuild,” he said.”
Todd Mohn, director of Public Works, said more than 50,000 cubic-yards of material has been ground up and mulched at the Batts Neck Road transfer station, though “quite a lot” is still to be processed. For the first time in “a very long time” the transfer stations were open seven days a week for three straight weeks. He said public works crews were at the tornado site for 25 days in a row.
Scott Haas, director of Emergency Services, gave thanks to the various personel, agencies and organizations that helped in the recovery process of July 24’s tornado.
Lucy Kruse, right, speaks to Kent Island residents attending the second tornado recovery town hall meeting at Matapeake Elementary School on Aug. 23. She, along with volunteers, will begin restoration efforts in the coming weeks to damaged properties.