As storm sirens blared Friday, March 2, Kenton County families lost their homes, barns, livestock and loved ones. A devastating F4 tornado hit Piner and leveled everything in its path. Within an hour of the storm, Jeff Bechtold, a senior building official at NKAPC arrived at Kenton County Emergency Management’s headquarters to offer assistance.
By 5:30AM the next morning, NKAPC had seven inspectors on the ground doing preliminary inspections on the storm-ravaged dwellings. “It was clear from the start that we were going to need assistance from our GIS department with maps containing the building layers so we could see where each building was located and which ones were in the storm’s path,” stated Brian Sims, Deputy Director for Building Code Administration.
Trisha Brush, Deputy Director for GIS Administration and her team created maps of the affected area with parcel lines, addresses, and building footprints. They worked all day Saturday to assemble seven sets of 54 maps for each inspection team, and deliver them to out-of-town EMS support teams in Piner.
Fire Chief Jason Schleue with Piner-Fiskburg Fire District stated, “The NKAPC was a great asset during this event. Due to the already-provided and on-hand maps that we had here at the firehouse we were able to start operations. Then when more maps were needed, NKAPC staff were here immediately to see what we needed and made sure we got it right away. The Piner-Fiskburg Fire District and community appreciate all the help from NKAPC.”
NKAPC’s building department had four inspectors and commandeered two inspectors from Boone County and one from Independence to conduct preliminary inspections on March 3. They assessed a few hundred structures in the area and classified 88 as uninhabitable with an additional 279 as being affected. Steve Hensley, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Kenton County stated, “The knowledge and expertise of these individuals was very valuable, as we conducted structural inspections and damage assessments”.
Inspectors returned to Piner later that week and tagged each structure according to one of three categories: habitable, limited entry, or uninhabitable. During immediate post-recovery efforts, NKAPC also assigned one of its administrative assistants to address questions from storm victims. The building department is now pursuing more in-depth inspections on an as-needed basis.
“Again I want to commend the NKAPC for the assistance they have and continue to provide to the residents of Kenton County. In my eyes, this agency and its staff members have performed over and beyond the call of duty throughout this event,” Hensley stated.
NKAPC waived all building and HVAC permit and inspection fees, as well as all electrical permits until June 4, 2012. Electrical inspections will still need to be paid to IBI.