Harrison declared disaster area
Sounds of chainsaws could still be heard last Wednesday in Harrison County following the tornadic storms and flooding that swept across Southern Indiana May 27 and 30.
Harrison County Emergency Management Agency director Greg Reas said Monday that he knew of 15 houses that were damaged here.
‘There may be more,’ he said, that wouldn’t be discovered until downed tree limbs are removed.
On Friday, President George W. Bush added five more Indiana counties ‘ including Harrison and Floyd ‘ to the list of 35 Hoosier counties he declared disasters areas on June 3. Crawford and Washington counties were on the initial list.
‘They took the worse of it at first … so assistance could get underway,’ Reas said. ‘Then they came back to areas like ours to work into the declaration.’
The disaster declaration allows residents to apply for low-interest loans and grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
‘It covers uninsured damages and loss of income,’ Reas said.
On Monday, Reas canvassed northeast Harrison County with Herbert Turner, a FEMA community relations employee.
Turner, who lives in Alaska but works out of FEMA district 10 in Washington state, arrived in Indiana on Saturday. Before coming to Harrison County, he toured damage in Marion County.
Asked how long he’ll be in the area, Turner said, ‘Indefinitely ‘ until the job is done.’
Reas said the damage along Rita Lane ‘is probably the worst part of the county.’
A 57-year-old man with whom Reas and Turner talked said he was ‘almost worn out’ from taking loads of tree limbs, mostly walnut, to the dump.
‘You had to see it to believe it,’ the man told them.
Reas encouraged the man to call the FEMA hotline at 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-621-3362. (Hearing- and speech-impaired residents can call 1-800-462-7585.) The phones are staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
‘You call them and do an interview on the phone,’ Reas said. ‘They’ll give you some indication of what they can and can’t do for you.’
Not everyone will qualify for assistance, Reas said.
‘Some people will fall between the cracks,’ he said.
There are other means of assistance available. The Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development has $50,000 available that it received from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Some farmers, self-employed workers and others may be eligible for benefits as determined by the applicant’s income.
The application deadline is July 9 for residents of Crawford, Washington, Clark, Marion and Miami counties. Persons who live in the 35 counties declared disaster areas last week have until July 16 to apply.
To check on eligibility, contact the local WorkOne or WorkOne Express center or call 1-888-WorkOne.
Reas estimated it will take three to four weeks for three tree services hired by the county to remove downed or damaged trees from public rights-of-way throughout Harrison County.
A five-man crew from Nelson Tree Service, supervised by James Lewis, worked last Wednesday to remove debris from power lines between North and South Harrison drives in Corydon.
Shane Griffin spent much of the morning 85 to 90 feet off the ground in Gail Enlow’s hickory tree. As he cut large branches from the main trunk, Duane Moreillon, Porter Cox, Bob Wilcutt and Mike Benson worked with Lewis on the ground, piling the debris for later removal.
‘We’re getting calls by the minute,’ Lewis said between taking cell phone calls. Most of the work was termed ‘preventive maintenance,’ before limbs actually fell on lines.
Persons in Harrison County who have storm damage can also make reports to Reas by calling 738-8949.