Carey Fox photo
Dark clouds, accompanied by wind, rain, thunder and lightning blew over Clay county Tuesday afternoon. This photo was taken on S.R. 246 in southern Clay County.
As inclement weather swept through Indiana Tuesday afternoon, officials at Clay County schools, healthcare facilities and businesses took the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the students, patients and employees in their care.
Heavy thunderstorms inundated Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky Tuesday afternoon, disrupting business operations and forcing residents into basements and other places of refuge. Clay County was placed under tornado warnings in the afternoon and a tornado watch from 3 to 10 p.m. The Weather Channel reported doppler radar indicated a tornado in Clay City at approximately 3:25 p.m., but no sightings had been reported at press time. Later, television reports indicated funnel clouds had been seen. A tornado apparently destroyed a factory in Daviess County.
Employees at Brazil City Hall, the Clay County Courthouse and Riddell National Bank took shelter in the basements of the respective facilities. Employees were sent home at 3:45 p.m., when the tornado warning expired.
Classes at Clay County schools were dismissed for the day just as the weather system approached the area. Frank Misner, Director of Transportation for Clay Ccommunity Schools, made the decision to keep students safely within their school buildings and off buses.
"We've not had a negative call. It just seemed like the right thing to do," he said. "On this deal, you try to stay on the safe side. It's more important to be safe than on time."
Northview High School students were on the bus when the decision was made to hold students, so they were taken off the bus at North Clay Middle School, the first stop after Northview, said Clay Community Schools Assistant Superintendent Mike Mogan. Elementary student buses had already left their buildings before the tornado warning was announced. Northview and North Clay Middle School students were put back on buses for the trip home when the tornado warning ended.
Clay City students were transported home on schedule. The administration chose not to delay bus routes in anticipation of a second wave of storms, said Misner.
Andrea Baysinger, a spokesperson for St. Vincent Clay Hospital, said hospital staff was quick to take the necessary safety precautions.
"The hospital's tornado warning protocol is to put patients in a safe place," she said.
Baysinger said ambulatory patients were moved to the hospital's basement, while others were moved into hallways. Employees would be released and patients returned to their rooms when the tornado warning expired, Baysinger said.
As the threat of a tornado loomed, staffs at area nursing homes took similar precautions. Lisa Bloesing, Administrator of Cloverleaf Healthcare in Knightsville, said their severe weather protocol dictates residents be removed from their rooms and into hallways. Residents were provided with extra sheets and blankets for warmth and served cold drinks. Bloesing said that her staff is prepared to handle such situations, which keeps distress among residents to a minimum.
"Everybody's pretty calm," she said. "(The residents) seem to be pretty aware of what's going on, and the staff is trained in how to deal with this."
Clay Health Center Director of Nursing Deborah Schoffstall said her residents were placed in a central area of the facility with no adjacent windows and allowed to listen to the radio for weather updates. According to Schoffstall, panic was not an option.
"I only do 'calm,'" she said.
There was only minor property damage reported to the Clay County Sheriff's Department, dispatcher Missy Gambill said.
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Editor Frank Phillips and reporter Ivy Herron contributed to this report.