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Be prepared for tornadoes, dangerous spring weather

Winter weather packed a punch in late February, but with the spring season approaching, there are other weather threats we should be prepared for.

Spring will officially begin on March 19, and with the warmer weather comes greater risks of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

Annually, Indiana sees on average 22 tornadoes per year, with an above-average count of 32 reported in 2019, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Two very damaging tornadoes occurred across middle Tennessee during the early morning hours recently, resulting in widespread damage and numerous injuries and fatalities, according to a National Weather Service preliminary damage survey.

During the month of March, Indiana sees one tornado on average, but as the spring months progress those numbers increase to an average of more than five tornadoes in May.

In May of last year multiple confirmed tornadoes hit around and near Grant County. In 2016, two tornadoes struck the area with wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, causing extensive damage.

Here are some definitions and guidelines provided by The National Weather Service to follow to help keep you and your family safe:

Tornado Watch: issued when conditions are favorable for tornado development. People located in and around the watch area should keep an eye to the sky and listen to their NOAA weather radio all hazards or tune to local broadcast media for further weather information. The watch is intended to give you time to prepare and time to review your safety rules.

Tornado Warning: issued when a developing tornado has been detected by National Weather Service doppler radar or a reliable report of a tornado has been reported. A tornado warning is usually issued for portions of one or two counties, for an hour or less. The storm could also produce large hail and destructive straight line winds. If the tornado warning includes your neighborhood or work place, you should seek safe shelter immediately.

In the event of a tornado, here are some tornado safety rules to keep you and your family safe according to government reports:

In general, get as low as you can. A basement below ground level or the lowest floor of a building offers the greatest safety. Put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible. Avoid windows at all cost!

Tornadoes could be obscured by rainfall or come at nighttime. Do not wait until you see or hear the tornado, it may be too late.

Do not waste time opening or closing windows and doors. It will not protect the structure. You will only waste time and put yourself and others in greater risk. Use those valuable seconds to find a place of safety.

In homes or public buildings: go to the basement or a small interior room, such as a closet, bathroom or an interior hall on the lowest level. Close all doors to the hallway for greater protection. If possible, get under something sturdy like a heavy table. Protect yourself from flying debris with pillows, heavy coats, blankets or quilts. Use bicycle or motorcycle helmets to protect your head.

In mobile homes: leave well in advance of the approaching severe weather and go to a strong building. If there is no shelter nearby, get into the nearest ditch, low spot or underground culvert. Lie flat, covering your head with your hands for protection.

In vehicles or outdoors: when tornadoes are possible, limit your outdoor plans or finish them early. Stay close to a sturdy shelter. If caught outside, find shelter in a ditch or remain in your vehicle and cover your head for protection. Do not take shelter under a highway overpass, where wind speeds can increase due to a tunneling effect. It is best to not put yourself or others in a situation where no sturdy shelter is available.

Remember, stay away from doors, windows, outside walls and protect your head.

'Indiana Beach,' R.I.P.

Sorry, Hoosier tourists – you’ve just been given one more reason to cross a state line in search of that perfect day trip.

Indiana Beach, the amusement park operated on the shores of Lake Shafer in White County for nearly 100 years, has been shut down by its corporate owners in California.

When all the chin-scratching trend watchers speculate on reasons for the closing, a couple will probably stand out.

One is the indifference (or greed, some would say) of big business. The original, local owner sold the place to a New York outfit that apparently didn’t do much before selling it to the Californians, who made some improvements but could still only eke “marginal profits” out of the place.

The other is the evolving nature of entertainment. People have so many ways to amuse themselves at home these days that the idea of fighting traffic and crowds just to stand in line somewhere isn’t quite as attractive as it once was.

Both of those theories are quite reasonable, and I have reasons to appreciate each of them

I spent most of my career at a newspaper that succumbed to the local-to-corporate disassembly line. Yes, it likely would have fallen to the digital revolution in any case, but I can’t help but feel it ended up on blocks in the derelict front yard of old media sooner than it had to.

And heaven knows I spend enough time at my keyboard doing things that I once did by venturing “outside” (you remember it, I’m sure). I won’t say my Amazon shopping killed Sears and L.S. Ayres, but you can probably blame me and my ilk for Kmart.

But, being one of those chin-scratching trend watchers myself, I naturally have to look for the bigger picture.

Which, I think, is this: As humans are fragile and life is brief, so are the expressions of our collective enterprise impermanent. We resist that fact with every fiber of our being, but it is true nonetheless.

Indiana Beach is but one of a list of disappearing Hoosier attractions. The most recent are the auctioning off of Amish Acres in northeast Indiana and the entire town of Story being put up for sale. But the list is long – the 100 Center shopping destination in Mishawaka, a Ferris wheel and roller coaster on the beach in Michigan City. Ogden Dunes had a 200-foot ski jump and Porter had a planetarium.

We can all add our own personal losses to the list of places generally missed.

Mine would include the restaurant where my family gathered in monthly, merry celebrations, lost to the last big recession; and my high school, sacrificed to the imperatives of racially balanced education. Oh, and of course, I remember a thriving urban center before malls sucked the life out of it. Who in Indiana doesn’t remember a downtown that “isn’t what it used to be”?

When we lament those losses – and we all do, each and every one of us – we are really yearning for the return of a past we can never recapture.

The stories about Indiana Beach quote family after family talking about visits to the park being a tradition, sometimes going back generations, parents taking the children to the attractions their parents took them to. That history is what families feel slipping away – the amusement park is just a symbol of it.

Rescuing Indiana Beach or Amish Acres, which some entrepreneurs are hoping for, won’t bring the nuclear family back into focus. Reviving my favorite restaurant won’t reunite my family members now scattered in multiple cities in different states.

When I drive by my high school, which has a second life as an administrative center, I can feel the ghosts of my past. But those students in the yearbook I drag out occasionally – frozen in eternal youth – are still together only in my memory. We have all moved on.

That is what people do; we move on. And those who come after us have their own ideas about what to do with what we left behind.

That’s what I want to tell city leaders desperately trying to recapture downtown’s glory. People concentrated there for a reason, and they dispersed for a reason, too. Let the city move on. Let it grow and change and create new memories for the next generation.

That’s what I want to tell them. But it would be pointless. They won’t listen. They can’t.


Hoosiers With Disabilities Are Valuable


Earlier this year, Indiana’s Governor, Governor Eric Holcomb, shared with all Hoosiers, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, his State of the State speech. I was excited to hear the Governor confirm his belief of the value of tens of thousands of Hoosiers with disabilities. In his speech, the governor shared, “ … we won’t overlook anyone who is aspiring to be successful. That includes Hoosiers with disabilities, who seek to live and work in a safe, affordable and accessible environment.” During his speech, the governor thanked Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch for her hard work to help turn abilities into opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Our team at Carey Services works tirelessly, every day, to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am thankful the governor specifically recognized the abilities of individuals similar to those we serve at Carey Services. It is important that I also take a moment to thank the lieutenant governor for taking on the task, two years ago, to lead an effort with Indiana’s 1102 Task Force. That Task Force, under Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, is leading the way for Indiana to be a model in creating a world where all people are empowered and equally valued in the community. A colleague of mine noted recently, “There are about 100,000 Hoosiers with intellectual or developmental disabilities and there is no doubt that they deserve to be included, not only in the governor’s remarks, but in our society.” I can’t agree more.

Carey Services is a grassroots organization that started pursuing our mission of “Turning abilities into opportunities” more than 65 years ago with the interests and needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities “top-of-mind,” every single day. We have not stopped that drive to assure Hoosiers with intellectual and developmental disabilities will thrive in communities we serve. Our team at Carey Services, including more than 150 dedicated Direct Support Professionals, works hard to assure there are many opportunities for those we serve to live, work, play, and participate in the communities to which they contribute.

Carey Services and those we serve are routinely “at the table” in the community to assure there are valuable opportunities for prenatal moms, kiddos from birth through age 3 in our evidence-based early childhood education programming, as well as for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, contributing through art, employment training, volunteering, offering affordable and accessible housing, learning life skills, transportation, wellness, advocacy, and the many other valuable efforts we successfully achieve at Carey Services.

Carey Services is proud to more recently be offering Pre-employment Transition Services in many of the high school settings in Grant County and other surrounding counties, to assist students grade 9 and up with special needs to build job skills to be career and post-education ready to be a valuable part of their community. We are seen as one of Indiana’s leaders in these efforts. As always, we are constantly looking to partner with employers (i.e. businesses) in the Grant County and surrounding communities to find work for people we serve so those individuals can make your business successful. Trust me, I know they can; I know they do, and I know they will. There is great value in employing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in your business. Try it if you have not already! Call me if you want to see that success take shape in your business.

In closing, again, our Team at Carey Services is thankful to the governor for his thoughtful remarks and recognition of the value of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Indiana. Carey Services looks forward to continuing to offer opportunities for awesome success for those individuals and families in our community for years and years to come.

Jim Allbaugh, President/CEO of Carey Services

Marion, Indiana