Ohio governor backs off his turndown of federal storm help


Ohio's right wing Republican governor John Kasich worked Monday to pull his foot out of his own mouth.

He announced he has reconsidered his rejection of federal help in tornado-ravaged Ohio towns and asked federal inspectors to assess the damage as soon as possible.

Federal inspectors were scheduled to arrive today in Clermont County to look over the storm damage and decide whether the area qualifies for financial assistance.

Kasich decided to invite the Federal Emergency Management Agency into Ohio only two days after saying he would not seek federal disaster relief because he was confident Ohio could handle the crisis by itself.

A spokesman for the governor, Rob Nichols, said the about face was made after state emergency officials developed what he called "a firm understanding of the problem."

Leaders of the destroyed or ravaged towns rejected Kasich's assertion that federal aid was not needed and said the state could not handle the necessary cleanup effort and emergency relief.

Pressure on Kasich was ratcheted up when the mayor of Moscow, an Ohio River town south of Cincinnati, sent out a desperate call to that city for help and as Democrats accused the governor of playing politics .

The Republican governor of neighboring Indiana, however, displayed none of Kasich's bravado and has said he would both seek and welcome federal help for his state.

In southern Indiana and other areas where a series of powerful tornadoes struck late last week, union members are mobilizing to bring help to stricken families.

Some 250 union families live in the two hardest hit towns of Maryville and Henryville, according to the AFL-CIO.. Local unions still report today that they have not been able to establish contact with all members. Many union members are known, however, to have lost everything.

The AFL-CIO has set up a volunteer reception center at the former Bales Auto Lot, 723 Spring Street for union members who want to volunteer their skills in the recovery effort. Volunteers can call 812 287-0519 or 812 287-0523.

Photo: Danielle Madden reacts after seeing her friend's house for the first time after the tornado hit the village of Moscow, Ohio, two days earlier. Photo/David Kohl/AP