Nearly half of Washington’s total property value was wiped out when the EF-4 tornado ripped through the town almost three weeks ago. 1,100 homes were affected and 800 remain uninhabitable. Officials say the state needs to submit more than $17 million in costs for local municipalities to get federal help in paying for recovery. Washington, one of the hardest hit communities, has spent nearly $6 million towards that goal on debris removal, law enforcement and other recovery costs. Mayor Gary Manier says the city is prepared to move forward with or without the federal declaration for public assistance:
“If we’re not reimbursed than we’ll find a way, either bringing more sales tax into the community or if we have some low-interest loans and pay for it overtime. But these residents are already affected, we don’t need to charge them any more for this devastation.”
City crews have removed 20-percent of debris so far, and will continue hauling away what remains at the curbside. But Manier says residents should also check with their insurance companies to see if damage removal is covered in their policies. Despite the cold temperatures, Washington residents did turn out for the annual lighting of the tree last night in the city’s downtown square.