The Starke County Airport is still reeling from the damage wrought by Tuesday morning’s storms. Airport Manager Pam Beharry says a number of hangars were damaged and some even destroyed, and five planes were totaled while others were untouched by the 70 mph winds that tore through the area.
Fortunately, Beharry says no one was injured and the planes that did suffer damage carried their own insurance. She says a number of insurance adjustors have already visited the airport, not only to assess the damage on the planes, but also to assess the damage at the airport itself.
Beharry says they have thirty tee hangars – a type of enclosed structure designed to hold aircraft in protective storage – and many of them were damaged or destroyed by the storm. One plane was even blown over to the fuel station and took out the building there. Some airplanes in the hangars were even lifted from the ground up to ten feet in the air, damaging the hangars before resting back on the ground. One hangar lost its roof, although the airplanes within did not move.
NIPSCO says the power should be restored today to the airport if it has not already been restored. The total amount of damage at the airport is still unknown because many pieces of equipment cannot be tested without electricity. The fuel pumps appear to be in working order, but because they have no power, the fuel pumps are out of commission and cannot be tested. The same is true for the airport hangar doors, which cannot be opened without electricity.
One airport employee was in a hangar when the storm hit, prompting him to hide under a stairwell where he watched the chaos ensue. He saw a roof blow off one hangar, and another one topple over, before he ran for cover in the main office building.
The Culver Military Academy has also been affected by the storm, as they are unable to continue their summer aviation program because the main hangar door cannot be opened. Beharry says the door may be damaged, but again, they are not sure because it is still without power.