Lebanon Reporter

November 20, 2013

Ind. businesses work to recover from tornadoes


Lebanon Reporter

---- — KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — Dan May has already found a location to temporarily set up his law office and his daughter's art gallery that were destroyed by a tornado that swept through Kokomo, but he's concerned about what other tenants will do in the plaza he owns.

"I'm not sure if they're going to be able to relocate as quickly as I can," he told the Kokomo Tribune.

Businesses throughout Indiana continued Wednesday to try to recover from the damage caused by the more than two dozen tornadoes and other storms that hit Indiana on Sunday. State officials were still assessing whether there was enough damage to request federal disaster aid, Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said.

The state has 30 days after the storm to decide whether to seek aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for homes homeowners and businesses and 60 days for assistance for government agencies and some private non-profits that provide a public service.

Erickson said the state was still gathering damage estimates to see if the state might qualify for federal aid. He said he doesn't know when that determination will be made.

"I can tell you it's going to be days, not weeks," he said. "We're still in the information gathering stage. That's really going to drive how quickly a decision can be made."

Indiana utilities reported more than 5,600 homes and businesses remained without power Wednesday afternoon. Indiana Michigan Power Co. said it nearly 4,200 customers in South Bend and Marion still without power, while Duke Energy reported more than 1,300 were without power in Kokomo.

Kokomo announced Wednesday that it was waiving some permit fees until Dec. 20 to try to help make recovery efforts easier. That included permits for demolition, building, electrical and trash bins, although residents still must submit the appropriate paperwork.

About 35 people were staying in two shelters in the city, while most others whose homes were damaged or destroyed were staying with family or friends, said David Tharp, a development specialist with the city.

The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance has provided four area businesses with spaces to relocate.

Linda White, a co-owner of Mid-Central Trophy, which makes plaques, trophies as well as jackets and hats, said she was amazed by the help they have been offered.

"We have customers coming by to check on us. Our landlord has been very gracious in trying to help us any way that he can. Between that and the police department coming in and helping, it's been awesome," she said.

In southwest Indiana, near Vincennes, students and teachers in the South Knox School Corp. are planning a fall polar plunge where students can pay $1 to try to dunk a teacher in water or $3 to simply hit the lever to knock a teacher in.

"It's going to be cold, and the kids are just eating it up," teacher Tim Salters told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial

At least five homes in the area were completely destroyed, while several others suffered significant damage.