Van Buren County department heads assess damage from March 1 storm

A meeting was held by city and county department heads Wednesday morning, March 1, to determine damage from the March 1 storm which struck Van Buren County at approximately 2:20 a.m. Damage was due to high-speed straight-line winds throughout the county. A State of Emergency was declared by the county Office of Emergency Management.

The greatest extent of damage was in downtown Clinton and Fairfield Bay, per a site survey by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s department. Approximately 13 thousand in the county were initially without power, with 27 poles down and additional lines down due to fallen trees and branches. Currently approximately seven thousand are without power as repairs continue. Petit Jean Electric crews began work immediately repairing lines and down poles, with additional crews from Petit Jean and neighboring co-ops arriving from outside the area to assist.

Water department remains fully functional, with no interruption of service as standby generators were brought online at any facility, including the filtration plant, when power outage occurred. No boil order is required or anticipated.

Clinton and Shirley schools were closed this morning due to power outage and road blockage. Currently power has been restored to the school and the roads cleared, with an assessment of facilities underway. No building damage was noted. Determination of school opening or remaining closed will take place later this evening.

Clinton’s downtown suffered damage, generally to awning at downtown businesses, most notable in and around the city’s courthouse square. Most of Clinton’s downtown remains without power. Clinton Street Department has been clearing trees since the storm cleared.

Fairfield Bay has opened two emergency shelters and is prepared to take in those in need. It is anticipated as electrical service waits to be restored those with need for electrical power, such as those with attendant medical equipment, may need to be transported to these facilities. Those in need are encouraged to call the Van Buren County Sheriff’s office is transport and/or support is needed.

Citizens are reminded to show care in burning fallen trees or limbs, and to remember when outside to look up to assure they are under no limbs in danger of breaking or falling.