KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — The buzz of chain saws cut through the chill Monday
as shaken Indiana residents began cleaning up from at least 10 tornadoes
that carved an angry path of destruction across 12 counties, injuring
dozens but miraculously sparing lives.
Gov. Mike Pence toured several storm-tossed communities as state
officials began assessing the damage to determine whether to seek
federal disaster aid.
"I haven't seen such devastation in a long, long time," Pence said in
hard-hit Kokomo, where at least 32 people were injured and about 50
homes were destroyed.
The storms that hit Indiana on Sunday were part of a wave of severe
weather that cut across the Midwest, killing six people in Illinois and
two in Michigan.
The National Weather Service said its preliminary findings indicate that
at least six EF2 tornadoes packing wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph struck
Indiana. They included a 10-mile-long tornado that hit Kokomo, a
75-yard-wide twister in Boone County, a 100-yard-wide tornado in
southwestern Indiana and one in Grant County.
Tornadoes also were reported in three southern Indiana counties and in
Jasper County to the north.
The storms cut power to thousands, tore off roofs, damaged schools and
left mountains of debris where homes once stood.
About 30,000 homes and business, mostly in northern and central Indiana,
remained without power Monday. Several school districts canceled or
delayed classes because of power issues or damage.
Damage ranged from a 110-year-old post office in the historic
Indianapolis community of Irvington to grain silos, houses, factories
and a coffee shop in places including Lafayette, Lebanon, Washington and
The storm that hit Kokomo was the worst to hit the city since a deadly
tornado on Palm Sunday in 1965, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
"In my lifetime, this is the worst tornado we've ever experienced," said
Mayor Greg Goodnight, who was born a few days after the 1965 twister.
Even so, many residents counted their blessings as they searched for
belongings amid the wreckage.
Phyllis Rawlins, 59, said losing the two-story Victorian-style house she
and her late husband built about eight years ago was hard, especially
since the storm came about a year after her husband's death.
"This is a severe loss, after losing him," she said.
But she was grateful that her granddaughter, Chelsea, and friends from
church survived. They were in the house when the storm struck and got to
the basement just before the tornado lifted the house, moving it 100
feet away onto train tracks.
Chelsea suffered a broken ankle, and the others had broken bones and
cuts, Rawlins said.
Patsy Addison, a 62-year-old homemaker, also was feeling fortunate. She
sought shelter in a hall closet in her home Sunday and didn't have time
to close its door before a large maple tree crashed through her home.
The tree landed less than a foot from the closet, showering Addison with
insulation but leaving her injured.
"The tree was where I was standing seconds before," she said Monday.
"I'm thankful to God that I'm still here."
She surveyed her home Monday with her husband, Robert, who summed up the
"Houses can be rebuilt, lives can't," he said.