IN cleans up tornado rubble

Indiana was so badly damaged by weekend tornadoes that some areas were still inaccessible to relief groups Wednesday.

BY HEATHER MOYER | MARENGO, Ind. | June 2, 2004

Indiana was so badly damaged by weekend tornadoes that some areas were still inaccessible to relief groups Wednesday.

"There are some areas we still can't get into, including Marengo. Outside people aren't allowed into the city yet - and as of yesterday, communications were still down in that area," said Mary Anna Speller, disaster relief coordinator for the Indiana-Kentucky conference of the United Church of Christ.

Weekend tornadoes destroyed close to 100 homes and affected hundreds of others in 13 counties across the state.

Marengo is a small Indiana town of about 800 people some 35 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky. It was the hardest hit area, with as many as 50 homes destroyed and at least 100 homes impacted in some manner.

Faith-based disaster response organizations are springing into action. According to Speller, organizations including the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Southern Baptists, and Salvation Army have been assessing needs in the affected regions. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee may also be called into action when the long-term recovery begins.

Yesterday, UMCOR distributed a disaster relief grant to the Southern Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Speller said much of the work right now is coordinating communication between the groups. "You could say that the big stuff hasn't started yet in this relief process," she explained.

Another town Speller sees needing assistance is Peru, which is in the northern Indiana county of Miami. More than 150 homes were affected, with 41 destroyed and another 39 with major damage.

"We're trying to get more information about damages there, but it looks like so far most of the affected residents there were senior citizens," she said. "And because it's so much farther north than many of the other affected counties, we're afraid they may get left out of some of the relief process."

On Wednesday afternoon faith-based disaster response representatives, as well as state and local relief officials, will hold a conference call to further coordinate their efforts.

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