Zionsville — Seven days of intensive reminders to Hoosiers of severe weather dangers will begin Sunday, March 18, as Indiana observes Severe Weather Preparedness Week.
On Friday, March 2, incredible damage was caused and 13 deaths resulted from a tornado outbreak in southern Indiana. Gov. Mitch Daniels asked President Obama on Friday, March 9, to declare the six affected counties federal disaster area.
The outbreak erased the town of Marysville from the map and obliterated most of Henryville, including all three of the community’s schools.
A tornado caused significant damage, but no injuries, in the historic district of Newburgh, an Ohio River town, on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
The National Weather Service told The Associated Press in February that it was impossible to anticipate the severity of this year’s tornado season — but the 95 tornadoes reported this January was nearly five times higher than the total in January 2011.
As part of this year’s awareness week, a test of communication and warning systems will be held between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. EDT, and 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. EDT, on Wednesday, March 21. The tests will be postponed to Thursday, March 22, in the event of severe weather.
Participants in the rehearsal include the NWS, the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Broadcasters Association, the American Red Cross, and amateur radio operators.
Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security is urging Hoosiers to think in terms of “ready, set, go” when severe weather is possible. “Ready” represents a weather outlook, when the possibility of severe weather is known hours to days ahead. “Set” represents a “watch,” when storms are minutes to hours away. “Go” stands for “warning,” meaning the event is under way.
The themes range from what agencies and the public should prepare for before, during and after weather emergencies.
Verifying insurance coverage is current is one of the preparedness preparations encouraged by State Farm Insurance, said Missy Dundov, a spokeswoman for the company.
“Schedule time with your agent to discuss your insurance needs,” Dundov said in an email.
At least 40 percent, and perhaps more, of the homeowners in Henryville did not have insurance, an ISDH official told Maureen Hayden, a reporter for CNHI, which owns The Zionsville Times Sentinel.
“We’ve been taking to dozens of people and I suspect about only 20 percent were insured,” Arvin Copeland told Hayden.
Home and business owners should know what they have and the replacement cost, Dundov said. “An accurate inventory and proof of ownership at the time of loss can make claim settlement easier and faster,” she said.
Some insurance experts have suggested making a video showing the contents of every room in a home, updating it regularly, and storing the video in a safe place, such as a bank deposit box.
Federal, state, and private emergency response agencies all recommend homeowners pack a “storm kit,” including a transistor radio; flashlight; batteries; a first-aid kit; a two-week supply of nonperishable food per person; a gallon of water per person per day, and other items.
Suggestions on kit contents are available on the web at GetPrepared.in.gov.
A Department of Homeland Security survey of public safety and government personnel by the IDHS ranked Boone County among the 20 counties least-prepared for public emergencies.
BooneCounty’s communities last year adopted a uniform policy on when warning sirens would be set off:
• A tornado warning has been issued by the National Weather Service;
• A tornado is spotted in Boone County; or
• A tornado is reported on the ground in a neighboring county, and is moving toward Boone County.