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‘Wind’ will it end?

‘Wind’ will it end?
‘Wind’ will it end?
Remnants of the roof from Purcell Electric litter S.R. 337 in Corydon last Wednesday afternoon after high winds, estimated at 70 mph, tore through the area. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

John Purcell, owner of Purcell Electric in Corydon, said he was sitting in his office working last Wednesday afternoon when a windstorm associated with a frontal system blew through the region.
‘I didn’t hear anything different than any other time the wind blows and the roof rattles,’ Purcell said.
It wasn’t until he noticed cars turning around in his gravel parking lot at 2070 S.R. 337 that he decided to call an adjoining business, Johnstone Supply, to find out why the road was blocked.
‘The lights had gone out, so I called back there, and they told me there was debris everywhere and that I needed to come out and look,’ Purcell said.
What Purcell found was a majority of his building’s tin roof thrown several hundred yards to the east, power lines down, an electric pole snapped and dozens of bewildered people standing around surveying the damage, which was strewn about the highway. Several parked cars nearby received considerable damage after being hit with debris.
‘I didn’t have a clue there was that much damage. (The wind) just ripped everything off,’ Purcell said. ‘It’s amazing.’
It was late in the night before the stretch of roadway was reopened.
The National Weather Service Office in Louisville estimated wind gusts in the Corydon area reached as high as 70 mph or more, putting Harrison County near the top of Kentuckiana’s wind-speed charts for the unusual storm system, which brought relatively little rain but made up for it with sustained winds of 30 to 45 mph most of the day.
Duke Energy and Harrison REMC reported some power outages due to the storm. A Duke official said 5,020 homes went offline in Harrison County, while about 5,700 homes had power knocked out in Crawford County. The final restoration took place at noon Friday.
‘Surprisingly, other than some power and the roof at Purcell, we’ve not heard of too much other damage, which is hard to believe,’ Harrison Emergency Management Agency director Greg Reas said. ‘There were some trees knocked down, but we’ve not heard of any that caused significant damage to homes or anything like that. This was completely different than what Hurricane Ike did here last September.’
Just west of Purcell Electric, a large pine tree was uprooted in front of the home of Gerald and Martha Saulman, who were vacationing in Florida when the winds hit.
The pine, which was the couple’s Christmas tree in 1971, missed the home by inches.
‘It’s hard to believe this tree stood up to Ike and the ice storm, but this windstorm got it,’ Jon Saulman, the couple’s son and a Harrison Township volunteer firefighter, said as he helped cut the tree Friday.
He said the tree also stood up to a fire in 1985 that completely destroyed the home next to it.
‘This tree’s been through a lot in 37 years. I hate to see it go.’
The windstorm comes on the heels of an ice storm a couple of weeks ago.
Joint inspection teams from federal, state and local agencies were slated to be in 15 counties beginning Monday to evaluate public infrastructure damage caused by icy weather that began Jan. 26.
Reas estimated the ice storm caused more than $1.5 million in damage in Harrison County.
‘It’s probably more than that, but that’s all that we’ll be allowed to submit to the state because there are some things they don’t cover,’ he said.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Indiana Department of Transportation and local emergency management teams were to evaluate damage in Clark, Crawford, Dubois, Floyd, Gibson, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Orange, Perry, Spencer, Switzerland, Vanderburgh, Warrick and Washington counties. Five teams were expected to begin the assessments on Monday in Crawford, Perry, Switzerland, Vanderburgh and Washington counties.
Preliminary damage assessments will be sent to the state, which will attempt to acquire federal disaster relief from President Barack Obama.

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