Emergency Manager reports no serious injuries from stormPublished 7:50am Monday, November 25, 2013
Although the massive windstorm that hit the Southwest Michigan area last Sunday may have left thousands without power or with damaged homes, the response by emergency crews in Cass County was exemplary, according to the Cass County Board of Commissioners during the monthly meeting last week.
Officials with the National Weather Service determined last Monday that an EF1 tornado did in fact touch down in Cassopolis during the storm, destroying a neighboring barn and damaging two houses. However, no serious injuries resulting from the tornado the greater storm were reported to any of the county’s major medical facilities, according to a report given to the board by David Smith, Cass County’s emergency manager.
“It could have been much worse for us,” Smith said. “We were pretty fortunate.”
Around a dozen or so homes and barns received damage due to fallen trees, power lines and other objects dislodged by the high speed winds, Smith reported. In addition, a Red Cross emergency center was set up in the National Guard station in Dowagiac to assist residents whose homes remained without electricity.
However, by Thursday evening, most of the short-term damage that resulted that weekend had been resolved.
“As of today, the shelter is closed, power is back on, and things are pretty much back to normal, except for the clean-up.” Smith said.
One concern brought up by the board to the emergency team’s response was that no tornado sirens were blasted after the tornado touched down in Cassopolis.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get any warning from the National Weather Service, and that’s our criteria for setting off the warnings, until after the event had moved through our area,” Smith answered.
Among the work that still remained for the county’s crews were the removal of branches and trunks from the estimated 120 trees the fell during Sunday’s storm.
Also on the board’s agenda last week was readjusting the schedule for next year’s monthly meetings. The commissioners unanimously decided to move the meeting time ahead to 7 p.m., with the prior meeting of the Committee of the Whole taking place an hour earlier. The time change will take effect Jan. 14.
Prior to this change, the Board of Commissioners would conduct their meeting immediately following the conclusion of the Committee of the Whole’s meeting, which began at 6 p.m. However, this would cause the meetings to have inconsistent start times.
“I think that for the Board of Commissioners regular meeting, we absolutely have to have a set time,” said Commissioner Roseann Marchetti. “For the Dec. 5 meeting, we have someone from the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission coming. I would like to be able to tell the gentleman 7 p.m. is when the meeting starts.”
The board also approved on Thursday a motion to create a new tribal revenue fund, which would receive payouts from the Local Revenue Sharing Board, the entity responsible for distributing revenues made from tribal casinos to the community. Proceeds in the amount $20,042 will be deposited into the new fund for redistribution.