Starke County Cleanup Efforts Continue In Wake Of Storm

Crews work on the tower at the Starke County Sheriff's Department

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department’s radio tower suffered quite a bit of damage from this week’s storm. Sheriff Oscar Cowen says a maintenance crew has come in and removed the portion of the tower that was damaged, and the department has had to re-adapt the antenna to allow them to stay in operation until they can have the tower replaced.

Currently, Cowen says they are waiting for the insurance company to come out and look at the damage to determine what they will replace it with, or what kind of antenna they will be putting up in its place. Cowen says they are not sure how long it will take before the damage is repaired, but he has heard the tower itself could cost anywhere from $35,000 and up – but they won’t have a certain figure until the insurance adjustor gives them the OK to have a company repair the damage.

Communications between the emergency agencies were not disrupted, but Cowen said they have had to equip the fire department and ambulance services with hand-held 800MHz radios to keep in contact. He says this is not the first time the weather has placed a burden on communications, but he has never seen this type of damage done to the sheriff’s department.

Highway Superintendent Steve Siddall says his crews have managed to clear enough debris to open all county roads, but he says they are still cleaning up debris from the storm on the sides of the roads. He expects this cleanup to take up at least the rest of the week, but they have removed all signs and barricades on roads that were previously closed due to downed trees and other debris.

Siddall says County Road 200 East near the Starke County Airport was one of the most difficult portions of the cleanup operation. He says electrical lines and poles that had snapped off were lying in the middle of the road, and his crews were unable to perform the cleanup until Kankakee Valley REMC was on the scene to get the lines off the road. Further, he says many people were in the area gawking at the damage, further gumming up the works.

Siddall says their next effort will be the courthouse cleanup, which he expects to be done around Friday or Monday at the latest.