Dear Governor-Elect Pence:
Your Eminence, Your Exaltedness, and Your whatever is appropriate for a person between jobs.
In the couple of years before Hurricane Katrina, the political leaders of New Orleans and Louisiana gave insufficient thought to what many had seen as inevitable—a hell of a hurricane that could wash over a city below sea-level and cause mass havoc.
Between Katrina and the latest hurricane on the East Coast, lessons were learned, and emergency relief was not as defective as in 2005 in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. Still, there was much to be desired (or at least people in some parts of New York and New Jersey probably would voice such opinion).
This letter is not about global climate change. This letter is about our Hoosier weather, in which a sunny, warm day can pop up in February, but every 20 years or so we are pretty sure massive tornadoes will turn up. I was a kid when the Palm Sunday tornadoes wreaked havoc, particularly across the mid-north part of this State. My parents’ farm was between Kokomo and Russiaville (pronounced "ROOSH–ee-ville" by true natives of the area). Russiaville was wiped out. The 40-acre roof of the Chrysler plant looked like a giant stick had been dragged across and down the 50 or 60 feet to the factory floor. I was in college when, in 1974, tornadoes ripped the crap out of mid-north Indiana, and leveled much of Monticello. Indiana had bad tornadoes hit across the State in the late 1940s. In March of this year Indiana was hit. That storm was big.
My computer skills are late-acquired. I tried to discern Indiana’s emergency plans for tornadoes. I did not find any plans or statements with many details. Perhaps some details should be kept close to the vest, but most plans need to be made known to people so we know what to do when those funnel clouds appear and some—but not all—of us end up in Oz.
I do not agree with you on many of your views, but when you take the oath as Guv of this State, you are entrusted with protecting the people of Indiana. To plan for emergencies should not entail a lot of money. Plus—it is smart as a political move. The Mayor of Chicago lost re-election in the 1970s (or was it the start of the 1980s?) because of a bungled blizzard. Bill Hudnut won the admiration of the people of Indy when he rode a snow plow in the Blizzard of 1978. (I was snowed into a bar just off-campus in Greencastle. It was hell walking the four blocks to my fraternity.) My point is that if you do your job well on such things as tornadoes in Indiana, you keep your oath and you build political capital. You also provide for the lives of people who have lost their homes, all their possessions, their means of transportation, need food at a few hours’ notice, and have to sleep on cots (if the people are lucky).
If I missed a more complete explanation of a disaster recovery plan for Indiana tornadoes, please send me the link. If there is none, please make formulation of such a plan one of your first jobs. Tornadoes can pop up at any time. Unlike hurricanes, you won’t have two days’ notice—maybe two hours’ notice, if you’re lucky. While the weather is calm is the time to plan, not when the hail falls, then the air calms completely—that’s what happened in 1965 about five minutes before the tornadoes ripped through. And get some of the Federal dollars back here we have paid out.
Your constituent, Mark Small.