VALPARAISO — At least two Porter County emergency service workers will travel to Maryland to help out with the aftermath of Winter Storm Jonas.

Porter County EMA Director Russell Shirley said Monday more would have answered the call to help dig out those affected by the winter storm, but a crew of 10 Porter County EMA members have been in Dubois County, in southern Indiana, since Thursday assisting with the avian flu epidemic that has caused the destruction of more than 400,000 turkeys and chickens.

One of those in Dubois County, said Shirley, is his assistant Mike Weber, who will travel from southwest Indiana to Maryland. The local responders will first go to South Bend to meet up with other emergency workers before traveling east.

Chesterton Fire Chief John Jarka will also be heading to Baltimore to help.

Jarka said he had been on the list to go to southern Indiana, but couldn't make it last week. He had expected to be deployed to Dubois County this week before getting the call to go to Baltimore.

Jarka responded three years ago to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.

Jarka said Monday afternoon he's not sure what his role will be in Baltimore, but it could be simply to help relieve local incident commanders who have been working around the clock since the weekend.

"It is rewarding helping out a community," Jarka said.

Shirley also serves as the Indiana Department of Homeland Security District 1 Task Force commander.

Members from Districts 1, 2 and 3 will form a Type 3 incident management team deploying to Baltimore for seven days in response to the snowstorm, according to a news release from the IDHS. Other emergency responders will come from Elkhart, South Bend, Angola, Kendallville and DeKalb, Fulton, Kosciusko and Pulaski counties.

"It is a national level event with the need for local emergency responders," Shirley said.

"A Type 3 IMT is a multi-jurisdictional team used for extended incidents that is formed and managed at the local, state or tribal level. Type 3 IMTs are deployed as a team of 10-20 trained personnel from different departments, organizations, agencies and jurisdictions who manage complex incidents requiring a significant number of local, state or tribal resources," according to the release.

Shirley said when such a deployment is needed, the district is usually contacted and put on stand-by deployment to determine who can respond to an incident. Response depends on an individual's availability.


The Worst Winter Storms in the U.S. Since 1980

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you've heard of El Nino and the impending winter storms across the US. Now lets review the top 10 most damaging winter storms in history.

Let’s count it down, from the least to most costly…

Last Winter in Review

Last winter, snow storms that pummeled much of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. In Boston alone, the 20-year record for snowfall was broken, and the city spent nearly double its $18.5 million yearly budget for snow removal by mid-February. Did it make the top 10?

How The Storms are Ranked

In a January 2015 report, the Geo Risks Research division of global insurance group, Munich Reinsurance, ranked the top ten costliest winter storms in the U.S. since 1980 by overall and insured losses. Just how bad do last winter’s storms stack up against other big winter blasts in recent decades?


The Munich report ranked the storms by losses prior to adjusting for inflation. Credio calculated the adjusted losses using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Inflation Calculator, and ranked the storms using the overall losses adjusted for inflation through 2015. All values have been rounded for clarity.
The Munich report did not include official storm names; nor do the storms have official names. As such, the names used are those that were most commonly used by local media at the time, or are most commonly found when searched online. Credio conducted additional research to provide the full maps of affected states for each storm, as well as updated fatality counts for some storms on the list. All fatality counts are estimates.

#11. North American Blizzard of January/February 2011

Also known as “The Groundhog Day Blizzard”

Dates: January 31-February 3
Fatalities: 36

The storm, which was over 2,000 miles wide at its height, led to over 5 inches of snowfall in 22 states and a flurry of insurance claims related to water damage and flooding.

#10. January Ice Storm of 1999

Dates: January 1-4
Fatalities: 25

The storm — which was really the first of two storms (the second coming about a week later) — caused record low temperatures in some southern communities and led to the widespread freezing of power lines and loss of power. At the time, the National Weather Service considered the winter storm the second worst of the 20th century.

#9. Winter Storm Series of 2015

Also known as “Winter Storm Juno”

Dates: January and February
Fatalities: 92

Last year’s storm series seems to be relatively weak when matched up against the other heavy hitters on this list. In its January and February Global Catastrophe Recaps, Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting placed the insured losses caused by this storm series at over $1 billion dollars — no amount to scoff at, for sure.

#8. Midwest Storm of 2013

Dates: April 7-11
Fatalities: 3

The storm brought hurricane-strength winds and heavy rain and snow to much of the Midwest and upper South. Thousands of residents lost power across the region, and a state of emergency was called in Minnesota.

#7. January Ice Storm of 1994

Dates: January 17-20
Fatalities: 70

The storm smacked a large swath of the East Coast and Midwest, setting numerous cold temperature records. In Chicago, the temperature dropped as low as -21 degrees Fahrenheit.

#6. Spring Nor’easter of 2007

Dates: April 13-17
Fatalities: 19

The storm, which began in the Southwestern U.S. and picked up steam along the way, led to torrential downpours in much of the Northeast. As a result, many homeowners made flooding-related insurance claims, particularly in New York.

#5. Deep Freeze of December 1983

Also known as “The Bone Chiller”

Dates: December 17-30
Fatalities: 500

The longest-lasting storm on this list, “The Bone Chiller” certainly lived up to its name. It caused heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures in over a dozen states, as well as a spate of casualties related to the sudden onset of the cold.

#4. January 2014 Winter Storm and Cold Outbreak

Also known as “The Polar Vortex”

Dates: January 5-8
Fatalities: 20

Many will remember last year’s biggest winter storm, which led to heavy snow and record low temperatures in several Mid-Atlantic communities. The effects of the storm, including wind chills as low as -60 degrees, were felt for several months.

#3. Southern Ice Storm of February 1994

Dates: February 10-12
Fatalities: 9

The storm paralyzed some areas of the deep South for several weeks. In Northern Mississippi alone, over 750,000 people were without electricity and drinking water for several days. Acres upon acres of lush treescapes were devastated, crumbling under the weight of heavy ice build-up.

#2. December Nor’easter of 1992

Also known as “The Great Nor’easter of 1992”

Dates: December 10-13
Fatalities: 19

Arriving just a few months before the number one storm on this list, this storm caused its fair share of damage, and resulted in multiple states of emergency being called in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Delaware. Major flooding in New Jersey, New York and New England led to many insurance claims.

#1. Superstorm of 1993

Also known as the “Storm of the Century” or “Great Blizzard of 1993”

Dates: March 11-14
Fatalities: 270

The storm directly affected about 40 percent of the entire U.S population and caused millions of people to lose power. At one point during the storm, every major airport on the East Coast was closed down. In Florida alone, over a dozen tornadoes were reported to have spawned during the storm.

Worst Winter Storms Summary

Though you might be fortunate enough to live out of reach of most winter weather, you still need home insurance (and you may be in a flood zone). Research your home and flood insurance options using Credio’s Home Insurance.

El Nino Winter Outlook


The map above displays the NOAA Precipitation Outlook which is typical of a strong El Nino winter.

How Strong is El Nino?

The chart below displays the Pacific ocean temperature anamolies going back to the 1997 record-setting El Nino.

Insurance Options to Protect Your Property

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.