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Monroe County government, charities tackle fallout of June 15 tornado



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Tina and John Paynter’s living room opens up to the outside June 17 in Ellettsville, Indiana. A tornado on June 15 took the entire front of the Paynter family residence. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

Monroe County government, charities and residents have sprung into action in the aftermath of the June 15 tornado that destroyed multiple homes, .

The 130-mile-per-hour tornado caused damage to almost 30 homes, blew over trees and knocked powerlines down in its 3.7 mile path through Ellettsville, Indiana.

United Way of Monroe County executive director Efrat Feferman said relief funds donated through the United Way website or by check are used to provide victims with clothing, furniture, medication, appliances and other essential items.

"Think about all those things in your house that got wiped out, and you have to replace immediately," Feferman said.

She said she urges those who have unevaluated tornado damage to contact the Red Cross.

Washington Township, which sits northeast of Ellettsville, was also hit by the storm. Trustee Barb Ooley facilitates relief support through local government.

"We are basically the first line when working with people,” Ooley said. “When you need assistance, you have to go to your trustee.”

Ooley organizes taxpayer money to provide support for the families affected by severe weather in Washington Township. She said Washington Township residents who have damage can contact her to start receiving aid.

Feferman said Monroe County Community Organization Active in Disaster will have opportunities for those who want to help with on-site cleanup in the near future.

"In times like these when our neighbors' homes, properties and belongings are destroyed, we want to make sure that individuals who want to help have a way to do so," Feferman said.

Ooley said families in Washington Township whose homes are inhabitable have been put up in hotels. Because cleanup is in the early stages, Ooley said the only funds she has allocated so far are for hotel fees. Additional funds will be used to clean up debris and fallen trees.

"However, I fully expect that to change once the clean up really begins,” Ooley said.

Ooley said the cleanup could take weeks or even months because of further damage caused by other storms this season. She said she believes it will take years before the area looks like it did prior to the tornadoes.

The National Weather Service recommends staying informed with local forecasts, assessing the immediate damage, contacting loved ones and helping those negatively affected after one's area has severe weather. Creating and practicing a plan are necessary proactive measures according to the National Weather Service.

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