Submitted March 30, 2010

This one caught us completely off guard!

Who knew that a hurricane could affect Indiana? We found this out the hard way when a wall of wind and rain from Hurricane Ike (September, 2008) slammed into our little town at 90 miles an hour. Most folks from our area are used to threats from tornadoes and floods, but this one caught us completely off guard.

No one escaped damage and no one had warning. 200+ year old trees slammed into houses, storm drains overflowed and wiped out entire blocks of cars, and signs flew right into their business' windows. Our power was out for a good week, meaning almost everything was closed. Kids were home from school, factories shut down, and it seemed like the only folks working were utility crews and the lone hospital.

Fortunately, we're a small, friendly town a good distance away from any major city, so we didn't have to worry about looting or mass chaos. This benefit turned into a slight disadvantage, however, as our drastic need for assistance didn't seem obvious to the folks who fared better than we did in nearby areas for several days. When the TV stations in Louisville were saying how things were getting back to normal, we were still days away from getting power restored. Finally, extra utility crews from neighboring states were sent in to help.

Lessons our community learned:

1) Stock up on the basics. We only have a few local stores, and they quickly ran out of bottled water, ready to eat canned goods, propane canisters, tarps, and batteries. The regular restocking shipments were several days away, and when it was time for them they were delayed due to the situation. I remember seeing the local drug store put up a big sign that read, "We have water! We have batteries!" several days AFTER the storm hit.

2) Keep your vehicles full of fuel. Sure, the stations still had gas; we're a small town and we didn't run out. However, the pumps are electronic and there was no power!

3) Buy emergency items now, not during the emergency. Those folks who had a generator were swamped by their neighbors' gentle requests. At first we didn't mind refrigerating the sweet old neighbor's insulin, but that led to a request from another neighbor to run an extension cord so he could have a light at night for his scared kids, which led to other requests, and so on... We ended up saying, "Buy your own generator", but they were sold out.

4) Have alternate routes and know them well. Sounds easy for a little town? Not when there are only two ways to your house and one is blocked by a flooded creek and the other by fallen trees. Turned out my alternate route was a pair of hiking boots!

5) Have an alternate place to stay figured out ahead of time. My brother's neighbors on both sides were wiped out by trees, and had his been hit he would have stayed with me.

6) Expect the unexpected. I though I learned this after 9-11, but time passes and it's easy to grow lax again. I grew up knowing how to stock tornado kits and how to watch river flood stages, but a hurricane in Indiana?

Elizabeth from Indiana

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