Town juggling two disasters


NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT)– While other parts of Indiana are still working through the uncertainty from COVID-19 the small town of Newburgh is juggling not only the pandemic but the aftermath of an EF 2 tornado from over the weekend.

Newburgh is under two state of emergency declarations now. The second state of emergency was announced not long after the tornado hit on Saturday night. Current and former town officials who agree, this is a unique situation for them.

A southwestern Indiana town of only about three thousand people is barring the weight of two major disasters. A tornado that caused extreme damage in some places and the coronavirus.

“It’s hard to separate both issues,” Christy Powell says.

Earlier this month, Newburgh officials, alongside many other places in the Tri-State, declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

On Saturday night, another one was put in place as the tornado paid a call.

But what does that mean?

A state of emergency not only helps places like Newburgh get federal funds to combat the problem but it also helps emergency services.

“A state of emergency allows our police and fire to take control of the situation,” Powell explains.

“By having a state of emergency it allows us to do our jobs effectively and as quickly as we need to the right way,” Jonathan Scully says.

Things like blocking off streets and directing traffic. Although what’s happening in 2020 is scary for some this is not the first time this town has been hurt by mother nature.

November 6th 2005 a tornado tore through Newburgh.

Back then, the same declaration was made. A state of emergency. Former and current town managers agree; they don’t remember a time when there was this much uncertainty at one time. Now, it seems something news is popping up every day.

“In addition to that dealing with the pandemic one of the issues we’ve come up with is that large numbers of people enjoying the riverfront lead to people congregating and getting into much closer proximity then what is healthy right now,” Scully explains.

“Really ramped up the amount of people that were down here and using the trail in the council did finally decide to close the trail,” Powell continues.

When it will reopen, it is still up in the air. Powell says three homes have severe structural damage. Three more have minor structural damage. 24 total were damaged.

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(This story was originally published on March 31, 2020)

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