Are we ready for the Big One?

Sunday night damaging winds knocked down several trees and power lines near Stevensville, damaging property and homes. This summer several storms caused damage across Michiana, but how prepared are we for the big one?

Brianne Howard is assessing the damage Monday morning at her Sunset Road vacation home off Lake Michigan near Stevensville. A tree came down in the road right outside her front door. “It blocked this whole entire road,” she said as a crew worked to restore power in her front yard.

Howard points out an example of how strong the winds Sunday night were. “This is one of the screens that blew out.” The storm ripped screens from the back poarch when it came through.

It’s a simmilar story a couple doors down The same tree that came down in Howard's yard kept her neighbor John Florian’s dinner guests from leaving Sunday night. He took a break from cleaning up the yard to explain “We couldn’t get out. We had to take a chainsaw and had to take limbs off to get the guests out.”

Sunset Road looks a lot like the rest of West Stevensville and Lincoln Township Monday. John Beers Road is littered with limbs and trees down. Some resting on homes.

Imagine if the damage was 100 times worse. Like the one in Joplin, MO earlier this year. Would we be prepared to deal with that?

“Not really” explains Jerry Sirk. He's a national disaster volunteer with the Red Cross. Sirk has been to 32 disasters including 9/11, Huricane Katrina and most recently the disaster in Joplin. He says nobody can prepare for those type of disasters.

“when you have 4000 homes destroyed. There’s no comparison to that”

Sirk says in the entire state of Michigan, Berrien County is the best suited to deal with a natural disaster. The Cook and Palasades nuclear power plants are here. The Red Cross and the county are required by the federal government to practice massive evacuation and disaster drills every year.

It’s something other counties don’t have to do. Sirk explains, “We have a plan, almost every chapter has a plan. We just practice them more than most.”

The plan on Sunset Road is to cleanup what this storm left behind. “Im glad it wasn’t any worse,” said Florian.

Howard is counting her blessings. “It could have been worse. We were blessed.”

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