In small towns they say, “When there’s nothing to talk about, talk about the weather.” On the evening of June 29th the weather was exactly what was on the tip of every Waynedaler’s tongue. This talk of the town was more than just passing time, it was personal. At approximately 3:30pm that afternoon a massive storm with tornado-like winds swept through the community leaving power outages to over 78,000 homes and businesses, roads blocked and debris scattered everywhere.
For the 30 minutes the mighty storm took to pass through the Waynedale area, residents felt as if they were Judy Garland in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz”. Up to 91mph the winds of this storm galloped down the streets, barreling into trees and buildings, shaking foundations and creating airborne debris out of anything not tied down. The storm produced just over a quarter inch of horizontal rain in total that vertically climbed rooftops with the help of the seemingly continuous gust. And just as innocently as the storm came, the heavens soon opened and the sun began to display the damage.
As residents began to peer out of their doors to access the storm’s wake, they felt the cool 23 degree drop from the pre-storm 91 degree drought heat. An eerie glow of orange clouds lit the downed trees and miscellaneous man-made items, with a littering of leaves and branches. Neighbors gathered in discussion of the passing storm and to make sure everyone was safe.
The excitement from the storm events had passed and the clean-up effort began in the short hours of daylight that was left.
As darkness came, everyone prepared for the night without power. Some started generators; others lit candles and readied flashlights. Many residents searched for restaurants that still had power or generated power for dinner that night, which was found close by in the north part of Fort Wayne shopping complexes and areas where the storm was not as devastating. But since there were so many trees and power lines downed in the roadways, traveling to other parts of town became difficult.
For most residents in Waynedale, the electrical blackout lasted less than 72 hours. According to Indiana Michigan Power (AEP), the blackout affected about 75% of Fort Wayne homes, but of all of the communities in the area, the Waynedale area was hit with the brunt of the storm.
When reflecting on the events that occurred during and after the storm, there are a few lessons we’ve all learned in emergency preparedness. Create a home emergency plan for everyone in the household, so no matter what happens, everyone can safely stick to the plan. Keep a stock of batteries and candles handy for situations when the conveniences of lights are not a viable option. Store bottled water and non-perishable foods that are specifically designated for a time of crisis. And remember when using generators to power your home, to read all of the safety information including how to properly supply electricity to your home.
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