A Storm That Left Our Community Shredded

Late Monday, June 13 evening, residents were abruptly awoken with a phone alert and shortly after, a horrendous storm that primarily ravaged neighborhoods throughout South and Southwest Fort Wayne. Leaving nearly 40,000 homes without power, entire trees uprooted, split and splintered with winds up to 98 mph, the wind speed of a category 2 hurricane. In many areas, power lines and snapped utility poles were strewn about, blocking roads and damaging property. Many homes, vehicles and business buildings were crushed and were damaged by the might of the storm’s warpath of heavy rain, wind and flying debris.

A severe weather event may be classified as a derecho if it produces 58 mph or greater winds along most of a 240-mile path. This is the strongest derecho to hit Fort Wayne since June 2012. That derecho produced a then-record 91 mph wind gust at Fort Wayne International Airport, of which, that record was broken with Monday’s 98 mph gust.

As the sun rose the following morning to light the destruction, it was clear that there was much work to be done to right the devastation that the storm caused. Over 1,200 I&M line workers, assessors, tree crews and support personnel worked to restore power in the 90+ degree temperatures. The city dispatched clean-up crews to address fallen trees and large debris. Most businesses near the Waynedale community were closed without power.

As residents began their cleanup efforts, many found it to be challenging to navigate out of their neighborhoods as trees, large limbs and power lines blocked most of the normal routes. Once out onto main roads, the next issue arose. Long lines at four-way stops without electrified stoplights. These problems also compounded the ability for power company workers to access areas of need.

Around 12 hours after the storm, all of the area hotels were completely booked, and ice, generators and chainsaws were hard to come by. For those without power, it was a struggle just to stay cool, and there was a real worry for pets to get too hot and food spoiling in the fridge. Throughout neighborhoods, the hum of generators could also be heard.

On social media, there were calls for help and stories of thankful people helped by neighbors. There were many who still had electricity and helped by offering, ice, food or an air-conditioned place to stay until power was restored.

Almost 16 hours later, residents in neighborhoods began slowly reporting that their power was being restored. Using drones, it was discovered there were approximately 275 broken and damaged poles, nearly 40 damaged transformers, and more than 570 spans of downed wires.

At the time this article was written along with the compilation of this edition of The Waynedale News, our office is still without power along with about 21,000 homes and businesses. Crucial elements to producing this newspaper were relocated off-site to ensure the delivery of this newspaper on time. We’d like to take a moment to thank all of the neighbors who lent a helping hand to others during this historic event and thanks to all of the I&M employees and contractors for their hard work to put our community back together.

Alex Cornwell

Alex Cornwell

The Owner & Publisher of The Waynedale News. Alex is a community leader and founder of various organizations, events & improvement initiatives in the area. He is also the recipient of 2019's Allen County Vandeveer Impact Award and 2012's University of Saint Francis' Distinguished Young Alumni Award. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer