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Bloomington campus loses nearly 300 trees due to storms, officials say

The IU Bloomington campus has lost nearly 300 trees as a result of this week’s storms, according to University officials who called the tree damage the worst they have seen in 30 years.

This does not include the damage that was reported north of the intersection of E. 10th Street, the Bypass and the IU Golf Course.

A particularly affected area is Dunn Woods, the wooded area in the middle of the Old Crescent district of campus. The area is surrounded by a number of academic buildings such as the IU Maurer School of Law. A large fallen tree has damaged the sundial that is east of the Student Building. Access to the woods has been blocked due to the threat of falling limbs.

The powerful line of storms that hammered most of the Midwest and swept through Bloomington on Wednesday may have downed hundreds of campus trees, but caused little damage to IU buildings, IU director of media relations Larry MacIntyre said.

The line of storms came in the wake of another powerful storm on Monday, May 23, that caused more than 10,000 power outages in Monroe County, and destroyed as many as 80 campus trees.

“The damage was almost all trees,” MacIntyre said. “Whole trees, but almost no structural damage.”

Tenth street was littered with trees, branches and crumpled sheets of metal after the storms reportedly produced rotating winds where the street intersects with Fee Lane.

A tree in front of IU Student Legal Services on Seventh Street was toppled, falling against the house. University officials are currently assessing the building for damage.

Officials also reported that trees were also lost inside the Wells Quadrangle buildings, in front of the IU Health Center, north of Bryan House, near the entrance to Hilltop Gardens, along Third Street and south of the IU Auditorium.

It will take months to clean up the damage and it could take years to replace the trees, IU Vice President for Capital Projects and Facilities Tom Morrison said in a press release.

No injures were reported on campus, and students were alerted to the onslaught of dangerous weather by multiple notifications from the University’s emergency alert system, IU-Notify.

The system, to the annoyance of some, sent out at least ten different alerts through e-mail and text messages.

Half of those were notifying students of a tornado warning for the area, each followed by an “all clear” alert a several minutes later.

“Our policy is to notify students of the tornado warning and notify them of the all clear,” said Deborah Fletcher, director of IU Emergency Management and Continuity. “Every time a new warning is issued, we issue a new message.”

She said the office considered just sending out one blanket alert but, as the line of storms lasted all afternoon and into the evening, there was concern that people would just assume that IU-Notify had forgotten to send out an “all clear.”

“It’s better to warn people consistently than worry about annoying them,” Fletcher said. “It’s more important to send out multiple alerts; even it might be more troublesome.”

— Jake New

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