Evansville continues recovering from the severe thunderstorm that ripped through the city the evening of Aug. 1 and into the following morning. Evansville Regional Airport clocked winds at 52 mph, which uprooted trees and left debris scattered throughout many East Side streets and thoroughfares. More than 30,000 CenterPoint energy customers had their lights go out, and power restoration trickled in starting Tuesday morning.
Lightning strikes split trees in half, charring their remains in their wake. Along Lincoln Avenue, giant, old-growth trees were pushed over, roots exposed, onto homes and vehicles. Both Wesselman Woods and Wesselman Park sustained enough tree damage that they closed to the public to clean up. Nearby, part of Hartke Pool’s roof was peeled off, stunting what would have been its last open week of the season.
Recognizing the severity of the storms aftermath and experiencing the byproducts of the storm’s heavy winds themselves, Chris and Shannon Owen — whose Cheshire Curiosities microfarm was featured in the September/October issue of Evansville Living — , have lent a helping hand to neighbors struggling to clear large trees blocking roads, driveways, and home entrances.
“Community is No. 1 to us, and it’s one area that we’ve recognized collectively that we want to see more of in Evansville and help people when they’re at their worst,” Shannon says. “I’ve seen neighbors that I’ve never seen before. We had neighbors up the street come by and help us a little bit so we could work together to clear the road.”
The Owens, who run their business out of their Lodge Avenue home, bought their own chainsaw and went to work, clearing debris from their street with their neighbors’ help and cutting down a maple tree that had crushed their vehicle.
“It’s pretty extensive. I referred to it as a Hulk smash,” Shannon says. “It’s kind of a coordinated effort of trying to figure out — I call it tree Jenga — what branch is best to move at what time.”
Though there was no damage to their home, the Owens say they have halted deliveries of their microgreens for the time being, but in the meantime, they are working to help others who are struggling to clear fallen branches and limbs.
“We went over to a lady’s house to help her because she had a fallen tree off Oak Hill, which had completely demolished her canopy with her chairs and everything,” Shannon says. “So, we chopped down the wood and placed it in a big brush pile for her.”
The parks and recreation department has set up a public space for residents to deposit tree limbs and debris. During daylight hours through the end of the day Aug. 12, the public can drop off damaged tree and limbs in the parking lot of the former Roberts Stadium. Drivers can enter at 551 N. Boeke Road. City workers will then collect the debris from the drop-off site. As of press time, details on the location were still forthcoming.
“This one lady, she lived in an apartment complex and the landlord sent out a tree service and they literally just chopped some bigger logs, but they didn’t clear anything,” Shannon adds. “She was having to basically climb over a fence with her kids just to get access out of her house.”
As of press time, fewer than 1,000 CenterPoint customers were awaiting power restoration to their properties.