County declares state of emergency

Messenger photo by Pat Donahue
All of the hangars at the Madison County Airport incurred moderate to severe damage as a result of a tornado-storm event that hit the county on the morning of Feb. 28.

(Posted March 1, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

In an emergency meeting held this morning, the Madison County commissioners declared a state of emergency in the wake of the tornado/storm event that swept through parts of the county on Feb. 28. The event caused significant damage to homes, buildings, and property. Major cleanup efforts are under way.

“Declaring a state of emergency allows the county to move immediately and nimbly to deploy resources and assist our residents and businesses in need,” the commissioners stated in a press release issued this afternoon.

The emergency declaration supports the Madison County Emergency Management Agency and temporarily allows the county to make expedited purchases to aid in the emergency response. It’s also the county’s first step toward applying for potential state and federal aid for costs incurred in response to the storm.

Messenger photo by Pat Donahue
Cleanup at the Madison County Airport started at 10 a.m. Feb. 28, approximately five hours after a tornado swept through the area. A structural engineer visited the site on March 1 to start the review process and grade the structures as to how safe they were to enter. The airport is closed to everyone except authorized personnel.

One of the county’s own properties, the Madison County Airport, was among the entities hardest hit by the storm. Two of the airport’s newest hangars, which were about four years old, were completely destroyed, according to Madison County Administrator Rob Slane. Several other hangars suffered moderate to significant damage, as did some of the privately owned planes stored at the airport. The control tower building stood up to the storm remarkably well, Slane said, though its communication tower did come down.

“A structural engineer was out today to start the review process. We will determine which buildings are safe to enter, which need to be shored up to have safe entry, and which buildings just will not be able to be entered due to safety concerns; it’s likely that those hangars will need to be demolished,” Slane said.

Currently, due to safety concerns, the airport is closed to everyone except approved personnel.

“We have a disaster response company out there cleaning up. They started at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday cleaning up major debris, anything that could potentially get airborne again and cause additional damage. We hope to have most of it cleaned up by this Saturday,” Slane said.

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