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Hope gets a helping hand

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HOPE — The town of Hope is receiving a helping hand from Bartholomew County officials in cleaning up windstorm debris.

Only about 15 percent to 20 percent of the debris had been cleared by Wednesday because the town has only one wood chipper to handle the fallen wood and foliage, Hope Utilities Superintendent David Clouse said.

On Wednesday, officials from Columbus and Bartholomew County began sending dump trucks, loaders and chippers to help clear downed trees and limbs left by an Aug. 8 storm.

While Clouse is grateful for the extra help, he knows the assistance is temporary.

“I don’t know how long we’ll have these crews. I’m sure they have their own duties to perform in their own areas,” Clouse said.

For that reason, town officials are urging all all residents to move debris to either the street curb or alleyway for removal as soon as possible.

Because many residents will have to wait until the weekend to accomplish that task, Clouse expects that another round of cleanup will be scheduled next week.

When the city and county crews arrived, they focused their efforts on clearing alleys. Clouse said his crews ran into a few traffic jams while encountering Duke Energy and Comcast crews trying to restore service to their customers.

But with the arrival of the out-of-town help, the cleanup moved Thursday to three of the most hard-hit residential streets, Robbins, Scott and Union.

Bartholomew County Highway Department employee Joe Kirk said Thursday that the damage was much worse than he had imagined.

“I was just expecting a few trees, but my God, it’s everywhere,” Kirk said as his crew chipped away debris in an alley between Union and Robbins streets. “We actually had to bring in another crew with special equipment to load the heavier stuff that we couldn’t get.”

Union Street resident Christina Caldwell had praise for members of a church youth group and the Hope Community Center who helped with the cleanup effort in her neighborhood. She said the arrival of the out-of-town crews makes things even better.

“This last week has been horrendous,” said Caldwell, who lives in the 300 block of Union Street. “It’s been so time-consuming with all the debris. I have no patience to begin with, but you have to go with the flow and do the best you can.”

One business that suffered substantial damage was Hope Premier Ag on South Street. Half of its chemical building roof was ripped off the beams during the storm.

Premier Ag manager Glen Shireman said the company and its insurers have just agreed to a $45,000 settlement. That is $10,000 more than the estimate made one day after the storm.

“It was a lot of the little things that got us,” Shireman said. “Gutters on buildings and stuff like that.”

However, the settlement will allow Hope Premier Ag to begin rebuilding Monday. The work is expected to be competed within 15 days.

The co-owner of nearby Hope Hardwoods Inc. on Seminary Street said his company is still trying to reach a settlement.

“We’re making some progress with our insurance company,” Ben Miller said. “But we’ve had to do extensive cleanup inside the mill. We’re still quite a way out from getting back to normal.”

Two-thirds of the mill’s roof was ripped off, taking electrical lines with it. Hope Hardwoods also sustained substantial damage to its sprinkler system.

Over the past week, Miller had his employees use their down time to clean up debris in a nearby residential area.

“That helped us 100 percent,” said Michelle Caldwell, whose new $27,000 Dodge Avenger was smashed by a fallen tree just after the first payment was made on the vehicle.

The storm also damaged her home’s roof, which was replaced after a May 2011 windstorm.

Get your debris picked up

The town of Hope is working to remove the debris left from last week’s storms. Residents are being asked to place limbs and other fallen debris along streets and alleys for removal.

For more information, call the Hope Utilities Department from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at


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