KOKOMO – Shaken Indiana residents surveyed homes torn apart by howling winds as authorities assessed the scope of destruction Monday, a day after severe thunderstorms spawned at least three tornadoes, injuring dozens of people.
Gov. Mike Pence, who visited several storm-tossed Indiana communities Monday, began his tour in hard-hit Kokomo, where he consoled homeowners outside their ravaged homes.
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 three tornadoes – all of them rated EF2, meaning they packed wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph – struck the state Sunday.
Indiana reported no deaths, but Sunday’s storms injured 32 people in the Kokomo area. Kokomo police Major Brian Seldon said only three of the injured people required hospitalization.
He said officials still were assessing damage in the city about 60 miles north of Indianapolis after a possible tornado struck the city’s southeast side along U.S. 31.
About 60,000 homes and businesses, mostly in northern and central Indiana, remained without power Monday morning after winds of up to 86 mph toppled utility poles and damaged transmission towers in a dozen counties.
Sunday’s storms left damage in the Lafayette and Lebanon areas, as well as the southern Indiana communities of Washington and Vincennes and parts of western Indiana.
Indiana Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said officials are just beginning to assess whether the damage from Sunday’s storms is severe enough to request federal disaster assistance.
Among the Kokomo residents reeling from the storm is Patsy Addison, a 62-year-old homemaker who sought shelter in a hall closet in her home Sunday and didn’t even have time to close its door when a large maple tree crashed through her home.
The tree landed less than a foot from the closet, showering Addison with insulation.
“The tree was where I was standing seconds before,” she said Monday morning. “I’m thankful to God that I’m still here.”
Shortly before Sunday’s storm swept through Kokomo, her husband, Robert, had walked with the couple’s grandchildren to their daughter’s nearby house, which has a storm shelter.
“Houses can be rebuilt. Lives can’t,” he said Monday.
The weather service said its survey teams found two tornado paths in the Kokomo area – one short and the other about 10 miles long. The weather service’s preliminary findings had not determined whether that storm was one tornado or two.
Another tornado that was 75 yards wide and packed winds of 120 mph traveled 3.5 miles in Boone County, ending in Lebanon in a neighborhood behind a damaged Starbucks shop, the weather service said.
A third tornado that began in southwestern Knox County, near Vincennes, traveled 19.4 miles toward Daviess County. It was 100 yards wide.
State by state
Here’s a snapshot of what is happening, state by state:
ILLINOIS: Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes flattened neighborhoods, ripped off roofs and toppled trees across the state. At least six people were killed, including an elderly man and his sister who died when a tornado struck their farmhouse in rural New Minden in southern Illinois, officials said.
One of the worst-hit areas was Washington, a town of 16,000 about 140 miles west of Chicago, where a tornado razed houses and sent cars flying. The National Weather Service says the tornado had a preliminary rating of EF-4, meaning it packed wind speeds of 170 to 190 mph. Washington Mayor Gary Manier estimated 250 to 500 homes had been damaged or destroyed. One person died in Washington, while three others were killed in Massac County in the far southern part of the state.
Gov. Pat Quinn declared a disaster in seven counties.
As high winds slammed into the Chicago area, officials at Soldier Field evacuated the stands and ordered the Bears and Ravens off the field. Fans were allowed back to their seats shortly after 2 p.m., and the football game resumed after about a two-hour delay.
MICHIGAN: High winds and rain slammed into the western part of the state, downing trees and power lines and leaving more than 530,000 homes and businesses without power. The Red Cross opened four shelters Monday to help those without power.
Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand said a 21-year-old man form Leslie died when a tree crushed his car Sunday night. The Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Department said a 59-year-old Perry man was found dead and entangled in high-voltage power wires in Perry after going outside late Sunday to investigate a noise.
Churches in western Michigan canceled evening worship services, and some schools in the southeast canceled classes, including more than 100 in the Detroit area.
High winds forced officials to close the Mackinac Bridge – a 5-mile span connecting Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas – to semi-trucks and trailers.
OHIO: Heavy winds from storms rolling through Ohio caused damage to buildings and left tens of thousands without power.
Wood County Director of Emergency Management Brad Gilbert said two people suffered minor injuries when their house was damaged in Jerry City, about 10 miles southeast of Bowling Green.
Winds toppled one of two screens at a drive-in movie theater in the Toledo suburb of Oregon.
WISCONSIN: Strong winds knocked out power to thousands in the Milwaukee area, damaged buildings and downed trees in Dodge County, and sent Sunday churchgoers scrambling into church basements for safety.
In the town of Hustisford, cattle sheds, garages and storage sheds were damaged, said Dodge County Emergency Management Director Joseph Meagher. No injuries were immediately reported, he said.
KENTUCKY: Tornadoes were spotted in at least eight Kentucky counties and at least one home had its roof blown off, a spokesman for the Kentucky Emergency Management said.
Buddy Rogers said it was unclear how many tornadoes actually touched down. He said a home in Rochester in Butler County had its roof blown off, and there were reports of damages to homes and other structures, but no reports of injuries.
MISSOURI: Severe storms slammed the eastern part of Missouri, leaving tens of thousands without power and destroying a mobile home.
The National Weather Service said the storm tore shingles off roofs and uprooted trees across parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Ameren Missouri reported more than 37,000 outages Sunday afternoon, mostly in the St. Louis area.