Daily Events Spotlight Indiana Severe Weather Week

By MIKE GRANT, Washington Times-Herald | March 20, 2014

In Daviess County, you don’t have to look far to see examples of what severe weather can do to a home. The community is still showing the effects of an EF-2 tornado that came through the area last November and damaged more than 100 homes and businesses.

“I was just down at Second and Sycamore streets taking pictures and it’s pretty sad,” Daviess County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Goss told the Washington Times-Herald.

Officials are using this week to remind people that they need to get ready to deal with the aftermath of storms as part of Indiana’s Severe Weather Week. The week serves as a time to get people to think about the safety measures they should take during a weather event like a flood, windstorm or tornado and to be ready to deal with it after one hits.

The event of the week was a severe weather spotters’ class Tuesday night. The class was held jointly by the Knox and Daviess County EMA offices at Technology Building at Vincennes University. It was put on by the National Weather Service.

A second major event during the week is the sounding of the tornado sirens as part of a pair of statewide drills on Thursday. One drill will be between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. and another between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. “The early drill is to help schools and businesses work on emergency plans in the case of severe weather,” said Goss. “The one in the evening is for people at their homes to think about what they would do.”

Flooding has been added to the list of things the state wants residents to consider during severe weather week. “I think that has a lot to do with all of the flooding in the northern part of the state this year,” said Goss. “There have been a lot of problems with ice jams adding to the flooding issues.”

While Daviess County is no stranger to floods Goss says most of the worst areas are protected. “We have levees that control the worst of the flooding,” he said. “One other concern is flash flooding that can hit most anywhere in the county when we get a quick hard rain. People really need to be aware of that.”

The big concern remains wind and tornado events. “Those can happen anytime,” said Goss, “but we are now getting into the season when they are more frequent. We get a lot more of the warm, moist air coming out of the Gulf of Mexico and that helps bring on the storms. Every county in Indiana has had a tornado, and people need to be aware.”

Powerful spring and summer thunderstorms can also produce straight-line winds that pack a devastating punch. “We had a storm like that a few years ago that really did a lot of damage in the West End of Washington,” said Goss. “It knocked down a lot of trees and we even had a house burn down because there was so much debris that the fire department couldn’t get to the house.”

Officials are recommending people use this time to prepare emergency kits that include food, water, medicine and even a couple of days of walking-around money. “When the electricity gets knocked out it could go on for multiple days,” said Goss. “The way things are these days that might mean the ATMs could stop working, pharmacies might have to close. Just everything that runs on electricity could shut down.”

While the state is reminding people to prepare for the next storm, Daviess County is also trying to move forward from the November tornado. “There are some changes coming,” said Goss. “The Long Term Recovery Project should start in the next week or so.”

People still have a chance to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration Loan for damages related to the storm. Those can be made online through April 7 at www.sba.gov.

“If people have not applied for those, they should at least look at them,” said Goss. “Those loans are a lot more competitive than the ones that might come from a traditional commercial lender.”

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