Muncie recovers after tornado Sunday
After a brief EF-1 tornado touched down in Muncie Sunday, crew members are still assessing damages. As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, 500 residents in Delaware, Blackford and Jay counties are still without power, however, most Muncie residents should have power restored by 6 p.m. Wednesday.
While campus mostly saw damages to the Quad, Muncie had large-scale damage to the Muncie Fieldhouse, three schools in the Muncie School Corporation and neighborhoods throughout the city.
“If you look at the Fieldhouse … they probably got a 100,000 gallons worth of water in that facility before they were able to get the water shut off because that was a 4-inch water main that burst when the roof collapsed on it and broke it,” Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler said.
Tyler said it will take tens-of-millions of dollars to repair the Fieldhouse and other damages in Muncie.
“I can’t even put into words the cost of just repairing the Fieldhouse,” Tyler said.
In addition to the Fieldhouse flooding, Tyler said the Madison Street underpass — an area infamous for flooding during storms — experienced minimal flooding due to the new storm drainage system that was installed in early October.
“It was pumping at maximum capacity, it was filled to the 750,000 gallons and it had water pumping out of the top of it and down into the storm water route and getting it out into the river,” Tyler said.
“And just a few weeks ago, 50,000 gallons of water would flood that. If we hadn’t of had that in place yesterday, there isn’t any doubt in my mind, as quickly as that was coming in, because it was coming in to the equivalent of a 10 percent chance of a 10-year flood and more than likely that would have completely filled up that underpass.”
On Monday afternoon, Tyler signed an emergency declaration along with Delaware County Commissioners James King, Shannon Henry and Sherry Riggin. The declaration was released by Jason Rogers, director of Delaware County Emergency Management.
Tyler said there is no timeline for damage repairs, but Indiana-Michigan Power Company is still out restoring power to the thousands of homes that lost power. Additionally, workers are out picking up fallen trees and branches.
Beyond the Fieldhouse, The Salvation Army Muncie experience minimal flooding, but Jonathan Taube, corps officer at The Salvation Army Muncie, said his biggest concern was the freezers defrosting.
“We have close to 400 pounds of ground beef alone, frozen in one of our freezers,” Taube said. “We consolidated it to three freezers that we’re now running off the generator. But if we had to throw that all out, there’s no way we’d even be able to afford to replace it.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, refrigerated food will last for four hours in an unopened refrigerator and a full freezer will last for 48 hours, if unopened.
While the pantry is closed until early January 2018, Taube said if the freezer would have defrosted, they wouldn’t of had any meat to give out when the pantry reopened.
“At this time of year, we’re focusing on our holiday distribution and, as I mentioned, we didn’t actually order that food yet, thankfully,” Taube said. “So, we still would have been able to give out the holiday baskets as planned, but we would have really felt the absence in the new year when we didn’t have any meat to give out in the pantry.”
Ball State Damages
The university experienced minimal damages, said Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities planning and management.
Lowe said approximately 40 trees were damaged by the storm, including uprooted trees and branches. According to heat plant censors, high winds were recorded up to 114 mph during the storm Sunday.
Additionally, there were minimal reports of flooding in Jo Ann Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center and Burris Laboratory School. Few buildings were damaged on campus.
“As a cautionary measure this morning, even though nothing was readily available on the ground, I had staff go around and look at every building, particularly in the old quad area, like Ball Gym, like Cooper, Fine Arts, the Administration building, Lucina Hall, Burkhardt Building — buildings that were in that pathway and we did find some minor damage in certain locations,” Lowe said.
Facilities began cleaning up on Sunday night and continued to clean up throughout Monday. With a half-day of cleanup Tuesday, Lowe said the cleanup should be complete, minus leaves scattered throughout campus.
After continued cleanup Tuesday, Lowe said facilities found minor roof damage to Lucina Hall, damaged tunnel vents in the old quad area, seven broken windows at the boiler plant, greenhouse panels were pulled from their slots and a few exhaust fan covers were blown off buildings.
The damages come at no extra cost to the university, Lowe said, because additional workers weren’t hired to clean up the damages.
While campus didn’t have severe damage, Kelli Huth, director of immersive learning, had tree branches fall on top of her homes roof, causing a hole.
"I had just gotten home. I had been visiting friends in New Castle ... I thought that the tornado warning had passed through. I had thought a different tornado had cleared the area so I wasn't expecting any more bad weather when I got home,” Huth said.
Huth had just dropped off her kids at their father’s house when the wind started to pick up. When she looked out her window, Huth saw tree branches scattered throughout her yard, so she moved into a hallway and after 30 seconds, she said, it was over.
“The main thing is that no one was hurt. There are a lot of trees and power lines down throughout the neighborhood and it’s going to be a while before power is restored, but we are lucky that there were not any injuries,” Huth said.
Although Huth will have to replace appliances, some flooring and repaint parts of her home, she said the support from her community has been overwhelming.
“I can say that the people in this town are wonderful. All of the offers to help and bring me things – my colleagues came by and brought me coffee and breakfast and they came and brought coolers and ice so I could save the things in my refrigerator,” Huth said. “I have had dozens of calls and text messages from people at Ball State and the community asking what they can do to help.”
Austin Sventeckis, president of Sigma Nu, felt the same community support after a tree crashed into the roof of the Sigma Nu house Sunday.
“Most of the IFC presidents reached out to us to see if we were alright and that they could help at all, so I’ve been really enjoying the community support here,” Sventeckis said.
Most of the damage, he said, was contained to the exterior of the house.
“Everybody is fine, it was just the house that got damaged and it wasn’t even that much damage. Some of the porch roof is kind of caved in, the gutter on the attic knocked off a little bit. Our fence got knocked over. But other than that, it’s not too bad,” Sventeckis said.
Phi Kappa Psi started a GoFundMe Monday to help offset repair costs.
Andrew Smith contributed to this story.
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