May 30, 2024
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By David Kronke
A day that called for working air conditioners, residents in Vigo County were busy on Friday recovering from Thursday afternoon’s sudden and swift storm.

The high winds caused some of the most severe damage to downtown Ellis Law Offices building, which had its entire roof blown off.

It sounded like the roof had collapsed, according to Kal Ellis, a partner at the firm. The employees were unsure what had happened. They noticed parts of the roof were lying in the alleyway and a gaping hole in the parapet wall on the third floor.

Water leaking through ceilings and running down staircases throughout the building caused significant interior damage as a result of the roof loss.

The building’s second and third floors do not have offices, but everything there – storage, files and furniture – was destroyed.

In order to replace the roof in a timely manner, Ellis Law hired a crew from Loogootee, Yoder’s Roofing.

As more storms are expected this weekend, they plan to have it all fixed by midnight tonight.

“It’s a significant setback,” he said, “but we’ve been through catastrophes before, so we’re thankful it wasn’t worse.”

Property manager Christina Holmes spent several hours removing tree branches from three buildings on the 3400 block of Wabash, just east of Indiana State’s football stadium.

“We hadn’t suffered any property damage, only a few tree limbs fell,” she said. Some buildings lost power, while others had it just a block away.

Holmes was on her way to pick up her grandson when the storm hit.

“Everywhere got hit hard,” she said. “It’s widespread.” We moved to trees off the road to get my grandson.

The weather made Thursday evening tolerable, even though she was without power.

Holmes said it was a good night to be without power – no more rain, no more threats.

Rose-Hulman University

A power outage forced Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to close Friday.

President Robert Coons sat in his darkened office and said the campus suffered numerous tree damage, but no significant damage to its buildings.

“It came pretty quickly and the power went out,” he said of his surroundings.

During the storms, the first series of summer camps for kids was about to come to an end. Counsellors arranged for meals and grilled some dishes for the students Thursday evening.

The next week will be a break before the next summer session begins.

“It’s never a good time for a storm like that, but timing-wise, it was pretty good,” Coons said. “Hopefully, we’ll have power by Wednesday.”

After the storm had passed, Coons said that the campus’s critical systems were all operating on generators and were monitored around the clock.

Several employees have trees on their roofs, and others have gotten together with their chainsaws and are helping them. “It’s a close-knit community,” he said.

Riley’s case

Friend and neighbor assistance was also helpful to Kyle Rhynd, a LifeLine flight nurse living in Riley. He was assisted by a friend in removing a large branch that dangled from a tall tree in his front yard by connecting it to a pickup truck with a tow strap and pulling it out.

My neighbors behind us lost a portion of their wooden fence, so they offered to come over and help pick up limbs and stuff. We all chip in and care for each other.”

When Rhynd returned home from work on Thursday, he discovered the destruction.

“We just had the roof replaced two weeks ago, and a tree fell on the corner of the roof,” he said. “The storm was impressive — it happened pretty quickly.”

Due to limbs falling on power lines, Riley was without power. Rhynd pointed out lines dipping low into a nearby lake.

I don’t know when we’ll get power back, but I imagine it won’t be before Monday,” he said.

From north Terre Haute to south of the county line, the downed line situation is the same, Riley Fire Chief Matt McCullough said.

We started getting calls immediately after the storm, he said. “We intermixed those calls with our normal medical calls. We assisted Terre Haute on a couple of runs.”

“It was just a matter of us going out and seeing what roads were closed and diverting traffic,” McCullough said. “We did that until 1 o’clock in the morning and called it a night.

McCullough expects his team to continue handling storm-related calls for days despite the slowdown in calls.

We’ll begin to see people using their generators without knowing how and fumes entering the house,” he said. “People with home oxygen will run out – we’ll be chasing them until power is restored.”

The proper way to operate a generator is to keep it away from the garage and home and make sure its exhaust is blowing away from windows, which could set off alarms.

The expert advised, “Treat all downed power lines as live, even if you think they’re dead.”

Cleaning up trees

A team dismantled a tree that had been uprooted and toppled at Meadows Shopping Center.

The Meadows’ operations manager, Terry Shackleford, said, “I think there is minimal damage – there were a few other tree branches down in the parking lot. The major issue is the tree outside, which is being cut and removed today.”

The process for enlisting the tree-removal service so quickly was “not difficult – I called yesterday afternoon, and they are here today.”

Those seeking such assistance may not find it so easy in the near future.

This contractor has six other proposals he needs to get to, Shackleford said. “Everyone is going to be competing for them.”

Residents in the area had to deal with storm-related inconveniences.

An inoperative traffic signal at Hulman Drive caused the eastbound lanes of Indiana 46 to be backed up for nearly a mile. Baesler’s Market, Meijer gas station, and Kroger on Wabash were out of ice by midday.

Branches surrounded the stone memorial to TREES Inc. founder Joy Sacopulos at Deming Park.

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