Mower County ratifies emergency declaration for Taopi, update on recovery

(ABC 6 News) – Taopi, a small town of about 60 people recently hit by an EF2 tornado, is on its way to getting some state money to pay for the damage.

Mower County Emergency Manager Amy Lammey said the town most likely will not reach the damage threshold or dollar amount to qualify for federal aid, but they have reached the threshold for state aid. Filing the emergency declaration is just the first step in getting those funds.

“75 percent of the cost cleanup is to the state, 25 is to the county,” Lammey said.

The county will most likely need state assistance for future projects like repairing the roads. The combination of harsh winter and heavy construction equiptment means the roads may crack and crumble. Overall, however, many in the town feel they have made significant progress.

“The big trees, the debris, the heavy equiptment operators — all of that has been moved out of there so it’s easier to handle,” Lammey said.

Large debris is cleared and the roads are safe to drive on, but most homeowners still have to pick up smaller bits of wreckage scattered throughout the town.

Cleanup has been difficult for Tom Kasel. Him and his girlfriend Jewel were injured during the storm when their home collapsed on top of them.

“Building a house — I don’t forsee that happening this year. We got our mailbox up so we did start,” Kasel said.

He has to balance healing with repairing his farm.

“They say you need to be relaxing and taking it easy, but I just feel like the sooner we get it done the sooner we can be back to normal,” he said.

Jewel remains in the hospital recovering from three surgeries. The county does not yet know what the total amount of damages will be but they say they will begin that process next week.