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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Cleanup spread across county

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Due to the extreme wind gusts Tuesday evening, a large tree was uprooted on the property of Jim Sampson. Jason Moon Photo.
Clay County residents were busy Wednesday trying to clean up after a severe Tuesday evening storm.

In a cell phone interview while assessing storm damage, Clay County Emergency Management Director Brian Husband told The Brazil Times that trees are down here and there throughout the county, but the most severe damage took place in the northern part of the county.

"There are so many trees down that I gave up trying to count them," Husband said about storm damage. "It's about a seven-mile path starting in an area near County Road 400 West and Rio Grande Road that traveled to CR 300 E as it left the northeastern part of the county as it headed into Putnam County."

Because of the large amount of debris in the roadways, Clay Community Schools delayed school starting time for two hours Wednesday morning so bus drivers could navigate by daylight.

"We wanted daylight so we didn't run into any trees or hanging limbs or wash outs," Director of Buildings and Grounds Tom Reberger said.

Reberger called the two-hour delay "very important" to keep the students and bus drivers safe.

"A lot of drivers came back from their routes this morning and said there was no way they would've been able to see (the road debris) at 6:45 a.m.," Director of Transportation Frank Misner said.

North Clay Middle School experienced the only damage in the corporation from the storm, according to Reberger, who said the gymnasium roof was damaged, causing minimal leaking into the building.

"We've been able to make temporary repairs until the weather conditions are favorable to make repairs," Reberger said, adding that he expects some insurance help in funding the permanent repairs, which are expected to be completed within the next 30-40 days.

Husband estimated a little more than 20 houses sustained minor structure damage in the area around Carbon, with countless others with missing siding and shingles.

Wednesday morning, Jim Sampson told The Brazil Times that shortly after the power went out at his residence located just off Rio Grande Road, a tree was uprooted and fell on top of his home.

"It was about three-four minutes (after the power went out)," Sampson said. "It sounded like a loud firecracker. It shook things and knocked a few things down, but nothing major.

"After I heard the tree fall, when it quieted down, I came outside with a flashlight."

That's when Sampson noticed the farm's 40-by-80-foot Quonset barn had collapsed.

"It was a strong wind," Sampson said.

Husband said two mobile homes in the area didn't fair as well. Just south of Carbon, one was flipped over on its side while another mobile home less than a quarter mile away had the roof torn off and was blown off its foundation.

"I've lived here for five years and never experienced anything like that before," Tony Horsely, 13704 N Murphy Ave., said. "The winds, it just sounded like a train was coming right through here. If it wasn't a tornado, it was real close to being one."

Horsely said nothing of value was inside the trailer because the family had just moved into a new modular home located right behind the mobile home six weeks before.

"I was going to tear it down anyway, but the winds did it for me," He said. "Just take a little bit of elbow grease to clean it up now."

Thankful no one was inside the trailer when the winds hit, Horsely was concerned about his neighbors just down the road.

Jerry and Lee Kinder were inside their mobile home when the storm came through.

"We heard the wind hit and then we jumped out," an emotional Lee said while gathering some personal items from the damaged trailer. "I know the trailer had already been moved, because when we jumped out there were no steps. We had steps."

The Kinders were living in the trailer while a new home was being built on their property.

"This is the second home we've lost in the past seven months," Lee said. "We were building a new home because we lost our other home in July to a fire. Now the new one is damaged too. The wind tore the roof off of it."

According to Husband, three barns in the area totally collapsed during the storm, one was filled with equipment and the other two barns were used to house cattle. He was unable to report on injuries to any animals because of the ongoing cleanup.

At one point during the storm Tuesday evening, the Duke Energy website reported more than 2,300 customers in Clay County were without power.

On Wednesday, while repairing damaged power lines and replacing at least 12 poles that were broken off at the base in the area, Duke Energy linemen confirmed they had been working all night to get the power back on to local customers. As of press time the website listed two Duke Energy customers without power.

The Clay County Commissioners also played a part in the massive cleanup effort after the storm.

"We have had volunteers out cutting down trees since about 6 a.m.," President of the Commissioners Charlie Brown said, stating plans were to continue cleaning up late into Wednesday night. "There was a lot of damage, especially in the northern portion of the county, and a few mobile homes have been destroyed."

Brown also expressed his gratefulness of those who are helping.

"It has been a great team effort by all volunteers and everyone else who is helping clean up storm damage in Clay County," he said. "They have all worked together to make a bad situation less serious."

To answer local residents' questions about a tornado, Husband said no signs of rotation have been discovered while investigating local damage throughout the county.

"All signs point to straight line winds at this time, but, if someone has something they think should be looked at, they need to contact me," he said.

No damage estimates have been compiled at this time, but Husband is gathering information about the severe storm damage to compile a report for the Indiana Emergency Operations Center and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The two departments will determine if the county is eligible for any type of funding available for disaster relief by the state.

"If there is enough damage, we can apply for funds from FEMA, but I'm not sure if we have enough for that right now," Husband said. "If people think they have major damage, especially structural damage, enough to be included in the report, they need to contact the Clay County Justice Center (446-2535 ext. 156) and leave a message. I'll get back with them as soon as possible."

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