Posted on

Clean up continues

Clean up continues
Clean up continues
Electric crews work on power lines along S.R. 64 near Depauw on Sept. 17.

A sense of normalcy is finally taking over much of Harrison County a week after the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through the area on Sept. 14.
Last Wednesday, about 9,500 homes were still without power in Harrison REMC’s district. That number was reduced to about 170 as of yesterday morning (Tuesday) as crews worked round-the-clock to get electricity restored. Duke Energy reported only four customers were without power as of yesterday afternoon.
On Saturday, with darkness already in the area, Russell Guse, an employee of the Kankakee Valley REMC, located in Wanatah, said he and co-worker Jeff Newburn had just arrived in Harrison County that day to help with the restoration of electricity. They had been helping restore lines in Jackson County since last Tuesday.
‘The people here have been very complimentary,’ said a smiling Guse, adding he didn’t know yet where he and Newburn would be spending the night.
Tyson Foods in Corydon concluded providing ice last Friday. In just a few days, the company had donated 122 units ‘ that’s 230,000 pounds ‘ of ice that was distributed by plant manager Bill Wood and general production manager Scott Shewmaker to county fire departments. The firefighters then gave it to residents who needed it.
The Harrison County Council approved $50,000 Monday night in emergency funding for the county’s Emergency Management Agency following the windstorm. The money will be taken out of the riverboat contingency fund.
Greg Reas, the county’s EMA director, said the largest cost will be for debris pick-up. Tree debris should be stacked at the edge of roads and will be chipped up and hauled away by contracted companies in the coming weeks.
‘It may take a while because other areas are doing the same thing,’ Reas said.
For personal debris and spoiled food, Reas has set up three dumpsters in the county, one at the Palmyra firehouse, one at the Ramsey fire station in New Salisbury and another near the four-way at the firehouse in Elizabeth. Reas said he hopes to get more dumpsters as soon as possible.
Reas also purchased two tanks of emergency water; one was placed at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Bradford and the other in Palmyra. Culligan hauled the water to the sites.
‘These are things that are critical,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to have water.’
Reas said the dispatch office became a call center, causing many officers to work overtime. Other expenses include Reas’ phone bill.
‘My phone bill is going to be a whopper,’ he said. ‘I was on the phone for five days straight.’
Reas said most of the cost from the storm should be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
‘I think we’ll get it,’ he said. ‘Maybe not all, but definitely for debris.’
He said he will receive information regarding the FEMA reimbursement within a month.
Representatives from FEMA visited Reas yesterday morning for preliminary damage assessment including businesses and houses. Reas estimated that two-thirds of the damaged homes in the county are catalogued. He said six homes were destroyed, 36 received major damage, 32 had minor damage and 63 others were affected.
Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe and her husband, James, experienced devastation from the remnants of Hurricane Ike. The couple and their grandson, Logan, had to temporarily move from their house located south of Corydon to the Hampton Inn after multiple pine trees fell on and inside their home.
James Wolfe said eight trees, or portions of trees, fell on their roof. Limbs crashed through the kitchen, utility room and bathroom. The main beam of the house is broken and the Wolfes’ bedroom door won’t shut, leading James to believe the whole house shifted. The trees were part of a pine-tree forest in the backyard. All the remaining trees behind the house will be removed by an excavating company, he said.
‘They just broke off like toothpicks,’ said Pat Wolfe. ‘It used to be beautiful. You can’t imagine how beautiful it was when it snowed.’
The Wolfes lost 3-1/2 acres of pine trees, some of which were 80 feet tall. It took a full week to clear the trees enough to get to the back porch.
To make matters worse, the Wolfes were forced out of the Hampton Inn after two nights because it was booked with visitors for the Ryder Cup golf competition in Louisville. Pat Wolfe then contacted Susan and Rick Conrad of Time Out Doors to rent a camper, which the Conrads set up at the Grand Trails RV Park in Corydon.
‘They were so nice,’ she said. ‘They gave us a discount because of our situation … they said they wanted to help.’
‘Jim built a campfire every night and we ate hot dogs and marshmallows,’ said Pat. ‘We did the camping thing.’
Nobody was in the house when the trees fell, but Pat and Logan had another adventure while trying to get home from church that stormy afternoon. A large limb crashed into Pat’s vehicle and shattered the windshield, covering Logan with glass. The adjuster told the Wolfes they were lucky someone wasn’t killed.
‘I told them, ‘It wasn’t luck; it was God’, ‘ said Pat.
Only a safety layer of the windshield kept the limb from breaking into the passenger side of the vehicle, where Logan was sitting.
‘We’re thankful we have him,’ said James. ‘We can replace the house, but we couldn’t replace him.’
O’Bannon Woods closed for repairs
Due to extensive tree damage, O’Bannon Woods State Park has been officially closed since Sept. 14, and will remain closed until at least tomorrow.
‘Everyone has been pretty understanding,’ said Bob Sawtelle, park property manager. ‘We’ve been working 12-hour days to get things cleaned up, and the Dept. of Corrections has been down here with guys every day, including Saturday and Sunday.
‘We just had a bulldozer team come down from Monroe (County) to help clean some trails for us,’ he said. ‘It’s going to take a while due to the amount of damage.’
Sawtelle said thousands of trees were felled in the park and others were split halfway up in the canopy, creating a dangerous situation for travelers, campers and hikers. Even with the cleanup, there will be no hiking or horse riding allowed this weekend.
‘It’s really dangerous to even travel some of the roads. We had two of our own windshields broken by limbs just arbitrarily dropping,’ he said. ‘We’ve cleaned most of the roadways. The Ohio River overlook area will probably remain closed. The fire tower and loop roadway are currently closed but may be open by this weekend, and the Stage Stop is closed.’
Sawtelle said camping areas A, B and D will open soon, and the Old Capitol Traditional Music Festival, featuring dulcimer music, will go on Friday and Saturday as planned.
Some of the fallen trees will be saved for firewood, some will go into the decking for the iron bridge project and some may be sold, with the money returned to the state park system.
‘Before coming out, folks need to call the property at 738-8232 to make sure things are open,’ Sawtelle said.
Call goes out for food donations
Pam Dunn with Harrison County Community Services in Corydon said they have been ‘absolutely inundated’ with calls for food. Last Friday alone, Dunn said they began buying food retail and spent $1,000.
‘We have been swamped for food,’ she said.
Dunn said they provided food for 89 families on Friday, which surpassed their previous one-day record for 62 families that was set after the Norstam Veneers fire in February. Between Sept. 15 and Sunday, 359 households have been provided with disaster relief food boxes. On Saturday, the Red Cross set up a station to provide hot meals; 416 meals were served.
In addition to food, Dunn said people with non-working wells have been asking for water. Those are the two main needs to be met by HCCS and, especially with food, they need replenishing.
Dare to Care, a food bank that services Kentucky and Southern Indiana, agreed to make an emergency shipment of food to HCCS to help keep the agency running.
Food donations can be dropped off during work hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Besides just offering food and water, Harrison County Community Services has been providing information, as well. They’ve printed daily newsletters that were distributed throughout the county, at places like the Harrison County Court House, the sheriff’s department, CVS and JayC Plus Store, all in Corydon, and Family Dollar in New Salisbury. Dunn said they’ve printed about 300 copies of the newsletter, which contains updated information regarding power outages and overall storm cleanup, as well as sending the newsletter via e-mail to more than 1,000 people.
Information for this story was also gathered by staff writers Lindsey Corley and Ross Schulz.