Mayor Too Busy to Mourn Neighbors, Loss of House With AM-Storms-Glance
PETERSBURG, Ind. (AP) _ Mayor Jack Kinman was too busy leading cleanup efforts Monday to mourn six neighbors and the loss of his home in a tornado that tore through this southwest Indiana city last weekend.
″We haven’t had any time to worry about our loss. We just have to think about everybody here,″ said Kinman, 70.
Petersburg was hit hardest by weekend storms that left 14 people dead throughout the Midwest and caused damage as far south as Texas. All of Petersburg’s 3,000 residents were without water Monday.
President Bush on Monday authorized federal disaster assistance to 19 Indiana counties ravaged by floods last month and tornadoes during the weekend.
Gov. Richard Celeste of Ohio asked for similar assistance to two counties in his state.
After a tour of the stricken area on Sunday, Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh said Petersburg looked like it had been bombed.
Saturday’s tornado turned Kinman’s house on its foundation and tore off the roof. Next door, the duplex where Giles Evans and Emma Willis lived was leveled. They were among six people in the Petersburg area who died in the storm.
″Those two were wonderful people,″ Kinman said. ″I’ve lived here all my life, so of course I knew them all.″
Eight people died in Indiana as a result of tornadoes that drove across central and southern portions of the state Saturday night. Two boys, ages 6 and 8, died Sunday in a second wave of storms that spawned one tornado.
The weekend storms also were blamed for two deaths in Wisconsin and one each in Illinois and Missouri. Tornadoes also were reported in Minnesota, Kentucky and Michigan.
In Indiana, the American Red Cross estimated that 824 homes were damaged, including 240 that were destroyed. In Petersburg alone, 114 homes were destroyed and 270 sustained more moderate damage.
In Kentucky, 47 homes were damaged and a spokesman for the state Department of Disaster and Emergency Services said storm destruction could total as much as $5 million statewide.
In Ohio, at least 1,600 homes and businesses in three southwestern counties were damaged.
Kinman said the scope of the tragedy was difficult to comprehend.
″I think most people are still stunned. They’re in a state of shock,″ he said.
About 5,000 homes and business in Petersburg and Bedford, which also was heavily damaged, were without electric service, said Pamela K. Chapman, a spokeswoman for PSI Energy. She said power would be restored to most areas by Tuesday.
For the third consecutive week, Petersburg residents were urged to boil all drinking water once service was restored. The city lost its fresh water supply two weeks ago when floodwater broke the main water line.
In Petersburg and Bedford, people sorted through rubble and carried away debris. A steady stream of dump trucks hauled away tree limbs.
The Red Cross and several churches offered meals and drinking water.
Mark Kraner, a Red Cross spokesman in Bedford, said the agency was making an appeal for donations.
″We’re not asking for clothing or food,″ Kraner said. ″We want money so the money can come back into the local economy.″
Two radio stations in Bloomington, 60 miles to the northeast, launched a fund-raiser for victims. Vince Garmon, a spokesman for WTTS-WGCL, said about $10,000 had been raised.
″Everybody’s pulling together,″ said Valerie Zimmerman of Petersburg. ″We have to or nobody will make it.″