By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — While residents in Washington scrambled to pick up the pieces of a terrifying tornado Governor Mike Pence came in to survey the damage and hear their stories. Washington was one of the stops on a tour of damage around the state created by a supercell that left damage and death throughout the midwest.
The governor did more than a fly-over in Washington, but got out on the ground and visited with people affected by the EF-2 tornado that damaged close to 100 homes and businesses in Daviess County.
“Our hearts go out to all of the families affected by this storm,” said Pence. “We are watching with concern and admiration the way they responded. Hoosiers were really fortunate to have no loss of life. Local emergency agencies and just people and neighbors took the kind of action to save lives. This was a fast-moving, dangerous storm. It was a supercell. Even though it is late in the season people responded correctly to the warnings.”
The governor called the tour of the damaged areas part of the state response to the tornado outbreak. “We already have several state agencies like the Department of Transportation and the State Police involved in the clean-up,” he said. “We’re going to look to get more aid for these damaged communities from FEMA and the Small Business Administration. We also have a state disaster relief fund. Part of our effort will be to help those who were hard hit and did not have insurance.”
The governor was flanked by Mayor Joe Wellman, all of the area state lawmakers and Congressman Larry Bucshon as he went down into the hard hit Sycamore Street area. He listened to their stories and asked questions about the storm and their personal status.
“It means a lot,” said Jack Myles whose house at 206 Sycamore was hit by the storm. “It shows he cares. I think it will make a difference for us.”
“I was shocked when he came up,” said Reba Quiggins. “It feels like he’s interested.”
The governor stopped and talked with contractors working to put the pieces back together before making his final stop at the Taylor family home at 304 Sycamore. “I was really surprised,” said Phyllis Taylor. “There was the governor and the mayor and the congressman on my front yard. I have never had that many officials here before. It’s uplifting to know people in authority care about you.”
After the tour the governor stopped and reflected on what he saw. “It breaks your heart,” he said. I understand the attachment people have to a neighborhood. It’s going to be a long way back for these folks. We can pick-up. We can clean up and rebuild. We are going to work closely with the mayor on the damage assessment. We’re going to do our part to help Washington, Indiana rebuild.”
To get that done may take some federal assistance. Eighth District Congressman Larry Bucshon says that was the reason he joined the governor on the tour. “The engagement of the governor is important and if FEMA gets involved we will do all we can to smooth that process. It’s important for both our office and the governor to get first hand knowledge of the extent of the damage, so we can relate it properly to federal officials.”