WHITELAND, Ind. — Nearly a week after an EF-3 tornado swept through Whiteland, those most impacted are trying to put their lives back together.
The state opened a “one stop shop” for tornado survivors on Thursday. The Clark-Pleasant Administration Building has been turned into a family assistance center and filled with state agencies looking to help.
”We want to make it easy for them to come in, in one location, wind through all the different state agencies that are here and the volunteer organizations to get what they need,” said Jonathan Whithim, the chief of staff for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Dept. of Insurance, Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, Family and Social Services Administration, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana Dept. of Health and Indiana Dept. of Homeland Security are all at the one stop shop.
Whithim said the agencies can help survivors replace birth certificates and driver’s licenses, look through insurance policies, sign up for unemployment, find mental health help, sign them up for temporary housing and more.
The room had several families inside Thursday afternoon taking advantage of the agencies.
”We’ve had several families come through, I know it was very busy this morning and we want people come ask for the help they deserve and they need,” said Whithim.
Other tornado survivors we talked to had no idea about the state resources coming to Whiteland.
The last six days have been constant work for Carolyn King and her husband at their home on Pearl St., one of the hardest hit areas in Whiteland.
”It’s a disaster, it’s going to be demolished,” King said.
The couple is working to salvage what they can. King said she has a lot of questions about the future, but it’s tough to get started. She hasn’t even heard back from her insurance adjustor.
“I’ve left six voicemails,” King said. “I don’t have time to just sit and call.”
It’s a problem we’ve heard from neighbors throughout Whiteland, even the town itself is still waiting to hear back from its insurance adjuster.
“A lot of our heavy equipment has been damaged,’ Said Carmen Young, the director of Community Development for the town.
The garage where heavy equipment and city cars are stored was hit by the EF3 tornado.
King said she’s hopeful the one stop shop can help her figure out what’s next.
“I need to know what our resources are, what do we do here,” she said. “This is not something you normally have to deal with.”
King is also wondering why this one stop shop wasn’t in Whiteland sooner.
“They should’ve been here the next day, at least the day after that,” King said.
Whithim said they worked as fast as they could with the scale of the tornado outbreak across the state.
”This was as quick as we could get this stood up,” he said. “You had to find a location, you need to find all the resources, technology. Things you need to make this work properly and you need to make it efficient for the survivors.”
The one stop shop will be open at the Clark Pleasant Administration building through April 14. The hours are weekdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.