Progress in Nappanee, tornado recovery continues

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

If it ever happens - it will be a long time before things in Nappanee get back to normal.

But progress is being made thanks to the help of many.

Wa-Nee schools will be in session starting Monday, but Head Start is cancelled.

Officials estimate there's only about 200 homes and businesses without power, as crews work to repair lines.

As the repairs are completed, many main roads are re-opening. State Road 19 was opened Saturday, and County Road 7 is expected to be open by midnight Saturday.

Line repairs on U.S. 6 are expected to be finished by Tuesday night, allowing the final sections of road to open.

Authorities hope to have power restored completely by Monday or Tuesday.

So far, local leaders say it's been emergency response work "at it's finest."

But despite the baby steps they've made in the last 3 days, authorities say they have a "huge" amount of work left.

Thursday night, a Nappanee policeman sat in his car on county road 1350 as his dash cam recorded the tornado passing through.

A few moments later - a family left their damaged home to ask for his help.

That was just the beginning of the job.

“This is something that is beyond what I ever realized to get a town back up and running and get people's homes back and safe again,” said Nappanee Police Chief Mike Anglin.

As power returns to most of Nappanee, many emergency response personnel continue to work in 12 hours shifts - much of the help coming from other towns.

“We have calculated, and we probably have nearly 90 agencies - Police Fire, EMS, utility, that have stepped up and come in to help out,” Anglin said.

The Salvation Army says they've served nearly a thousand meals to workers over the last 3 days.

“Many times our people have told them, whether it's Police or Fire or EMS, just be careful, it's hard work you're doing out there,” said Capt. James Pollom on the Salvation Army.

And even after power is back, and roads are opened, there is still a lot of work to be done; as families are without their homes - and some entire businesses destroyed.

“All of us have worked a lot of hours, I know they're tired, I know I’m tired, but I haven’t heard any complaining, they've all stepped up and asked what they can do,” Anglin said.

“The bad thing about a disaster is the disaster, but the good thing about a disaster is the good that you see that people bring to the table because of it,” Pollom said.

Even though the major roadways will be re-opened soon, authorities are still asking those who don't need to be in Nappanee to stay away for the time being.

They say the extra traffic from gawkers has made the recovery effort more difficult already.

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