By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
When a tree fell on Mike and Janet Blake’s home on Sunday, they made a run for a stairway in the home and decided to wait until the weather calmed down, unaware of just how much damage had been done to the house.
“We just thought it had fallen on the front porch,” Janet Blake said. “It’s not a tree I expected to fall.”
What happened next was even less expected.
Within minutes, the Blakes’ friends and neighbors were pulling into the driveway of their 1426 W. U.S. 36 home near Pendleton. They were there to help.
“It was like a scene from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” said Blake’s son-in-law, Eric Allen.
The tall tree in the front yard had snapped in the high winds from Sunday’s storms and had fallen on the house, causing major damage to the upstairs, attic and roof. Allen estimated about a dozen men Mike Blake employs in his home-building business showed up and got right to work removing the fallen tree from the house.
The peculiar thing is, the family hadn’t made any calls. Several of the men had heard about the tree on scanner transmissions and word of mouth. Before long, the Blakes had to tell some of the people arriving to go home because they had no more room in their driveway.
“He’s a good guy who would do anything for anyone,” said Blake’s daughter, Maleah Allen. “He’s helped people who have needed work, people who have been in jail and needed a job. Those are a lot of the people we had show up.”
The tree fell about 4:30 p.m. and the crew had the tree cut into stumps and off the house by 6:30. Some stayed behind with Mike Blake into the late hours of the evening to work on patching up the house for the night. The family didn’t even need the assistance from emergency rescue agencies.
“Lots of good people and good friends. We’re very grateful,” Janet Blake said.
The damage at the Blakes’ home was one of the few reports of major destruction in the county Sunday. As the rest of the state was ravaged by storms and unseasonable reports of tornadoes and extremely gusty winds, Madison County escaped relatively unscathed. There were several reports of fallen trees and debris pushed into roadways by the high-speed winds, which reached 50 mph around 4 p.m. when the storms were worst.
The storms did cause power outages throughout Anderson. At about 5 p.m., about 1,400 outages were reported along South Scatterfield Road, according to Anderson Municipal Light & Power’s outage website. About 300 more outages were reported south of the city at that time, and about 120 more were reported in other parts of the city. By 8:30 p.m., the number of outages was down to 250 in the city.
Indiana Michigan Power, a company that provides power to the northern part of the county, sent a press release Sunday night indicating roughly 72,000 customers were without power due to the storms. Though the largest number of outages were reported around Lake Michigan, wind gusts of up to 84 mph were reported in Peru near Grissom Air Force Base. According to the release, about 400 customers in Elwood were without power. The release indicated repair times were uncertain because the damage was still being assessed.
The northern and northwest quadrants of the county were put on tornado warning by the National Weather Service at 3:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. The warnings were lifted shortly after. A funnel cloud was reported by the weather service above Elwood, though it didn’t touch down.
Elwood Chief of Police Sam Hanna said two large trees fell in the city, one in the intersection of 31st and D streets, and another in the 600 block of South Anderson Street.
“We took a few precautionary measures. We set off the weather siren because of what was going on over in Kokomo and several other parts of the state, but that was the extent of it. The rain did cause some standing water, but we didn’t have much damage otherwise,” Hanna said.
Anderson’s siren could also be heard briefly downtown during the storm as a general warning.
The heavy rains that accompanied the storms throughout the day also caused flooding in parts around Madison County. An estimated inch to inch and a half of rain fell on the county on Sunday. The storms also welcomed in a cold front that dropped the temperatures from the 60 degrees Fahrenheit earlier in the day to the 40s by press deadline.
The chilly weather is expected to stay throughout the next week. Starting today, highs are expected to be in the upper 40s and lows are expected to drop to the upper 20s at night. The wind is expected to calm to about 15 mph with gusts reaching 30 mph.
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Storm by the numbers
- Rainfall: est. 1.5 inches
-Temperature: Fell from 60 degrees to upper 40s
- Wind: 50 mph gusts
- Power outages: app. 2,000