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UPDATED: Greene County not eligible for emergency assistance for storm damage

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Levi Martindale was like several other residents in the Solsberry area on Wednesday morning picking up debris scattered in the storm. Martindale's property along State Road 43 was hit hard with a 24 feet by 20 feet shed leveled and its contents hurled over a several hundred feet area. About 20 homes were damaged in eastern Greene County by what officials are calling straight line winds.
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Greene County Emergency Management Agency Director Roger Axe said despite the storm damage sustained in the eastern part of the county, there will be no financial assistance available.

Axe said two representatives from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Phil Brown Response and Recovery and Jerry Husband of Field Services Division, were on scene in the Solsberry area where 15 to 20 homes sustained what Axe deemed "moderate to severe damage".

"It (damage) was bad for several people, but we were lucky it was as localized at it was ... It looked to me like it may have skipped a little bit, but in a rather small area. I don't think we had a tornado. I think we had straight line winds for the most part. I've been on the phone with the National Weather Service. With what they saw on radar and based on my descriptions and looking at way the trees, it looked like there may have been some rotation," Axe explained.

Repairs crews from Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC were busy most of Wednesday restoring power to hundreds of customers following last night's storm. Here, they are working along State Road 43, between Solsberry and Hendricksville.
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Axe added there were no injuries reported, and many of the homes that sustained damage were still habitable.

Axe said in order for there to be individual assistance to be available to those who sustained damage from the storm, at least 20 to 25 homes would have to be almost destroyed or completely destroyed.

For public assistance to be available, the damage would have to meet the threshold of $3.34 per capita, multiplied by the number of residents reported in the 2010 census.

A basketball goal was toppled and a destroyed shed was moved off of its foundation and hit a truck and the home of Levi Martindale, located along State Road 43 about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. The truck's windos were broken by the impact.
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"We just did not qualify for any Small Business Administration Loans. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has been very strict on things, especially with the last year and calamities," Axe explained.

Axe noted he was very pleased to see the quick response time of the local volunteer fire departments after the storm hit.

"I'm grateful to the people of the Eastern (Greene) and Center (Township) Fire Departments. They are very dedicated," Axe said.

Greene County District 1 Commissioner Ed Michael, who was on the scene about 3 a.m., and he lauded the efficient work of the Eastern Fire Department. He said the firefighters drove nearly every road in the fire district looking for downed powerlines, cutting up downed trees in the roadways and searching for structural damage.

"They did a really good job for us," he told the Greene County Daily World at mid-morning in the Eastern Greene fire station. "They mapped out where they had been and marked it on a map. That really helped."

Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC hopes to have all of the more than 1,000 homes without power restored by nightfall.

Shane Smith, Manager of Operations and Engineering at REMC, said there are nine crews out working to restore power.

A total of six broken poles around the county contributed to the mass power outage after the storm hit around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

"We've still got over 1,000 people without power, most of which are around Solsberry area. There are three poles broken around Solsberry," Smith said Wednesday morning.

"We are expecting to get a big chunk of it up by this afternoon. We are hoping to have everyone back on by dark. Most of outages were in the eastern part of the county, but there are some on the western side," Smith added.

District 33 Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Curt Durnil said State Road 43 ---- between Solsberry and Hendricksville ---- was closed for a period of time during the pre-dawn hours to allow first responders to remove trees from the road and utility workers to make repairs.

By mid-morning was open State Road 43, except for one-lane traffic in utility repair areas.

Assistant Editor Nick Schneider contributed to this report.

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