HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WISH/AP) - At least 14 people are dead following a tornado outbreak Friday in southern Indiana. Authorities warned late Friday the death toll could rise as rescue teams began to search in the coming daylight.
Casualties spread through several counties
Three deaths were confirmed Scott County, according to the state Department of Homeland Security.
Four people were killed in Jefferson County, according to DHS and local police, The Associated Press said. A man, woman and their 4-year-old great-grandchild died in one Chelsea house in Jefferson County, and another man was killed in his home a short distance away, Indiana State Police told The AP.
Indiana State Police Versailles post confirmed two more deaths in Ripley County, in the town of Holton, including a man from Mexico who was visiting friends. Six other people in Holton were seriously injured, including an elderly couple whose injuries were life-threatening, ISP said.
Another four people were found dead in a home in Washington County, Sheriff Claude Combs told WDRB in Louisville.
The AP also said the Clark County Sheriff's Department confirmed one person dead in Henryville.
Central Indiana was largely spared serious damage from Friday's storms, but reports indicate Henryville, a town about 20 miles north of Louisville, Ky., on Interstate 65, suffered widespread damage. Several other towns were damaged too. The twisters tossed debris onto roadways across a wide area, making it difficult for rescue workers and others to get to communities damaged by a line of powerful storms that wreaked havoc in several states.
"I'm a storm chaser," said Susie Renner, 54, of hard-hit Henryville, "and I have never been this frightened before."
Governor headed to disaster zone Saturday
"We've learned so much and improved so much in disaster preparedness, warning systems and responder communications, but still we are no match for Mother Nature at her worst," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who planned to tour the damage Saturday, said in a statement. "We're hopeful that we know the full extent of the damage, but it will be tomorrow before we can give a final report with any confidence."
How to help
Officials in the area were asking the public to stay out of the area, as emergency crews were still trying to clear roads. The best ways to help, they said, are donations of money or supplies. One way to help is to donate to The Salvation Army or the Red Cross .
Cell phone service was hard to come by Friday in the area, and downed phone cables were hampering communications. Even police were having trouble with their radio service.
Interstate 65 near Henryville - one of the hardest-hit areas - was closed for several hours both northbound and southbound due to storm damage. INDOT reported an overpass in the area had to be inspected before being cleared for traffic to resume. The road was reopened just after 10 p.m.
Initial reports from Henryville and nearby Marysville were ones of devastation.
"Marysville is completely gone," Clark County Sheriff's Maj. Chuck Adams told The Associated Press. He was unable to offer many other details about the damage there.
Few recognizable structures remained in Henryville, north of Louisville, where a high school was destroyed and the second floor was ripped off an adjacent middle school. Helicopter video showed entire structures destroyed. A school bus was even picked up and thrown into a building.
- ONLINE EXTRA | See more photos from the area
The first damage reports indicated the town's high school was hit by a tornado. The front end of the school building was destroyed. The school's principal tells 24-Hour News 8 all of the approximately 80 students who were inside the school at the time have been accounted for and there are no serious injuries.
Kids who were separated from their families were taken to the American Legion Community Center in Henryville, and a shelter had also been set up at Charlestown High School in a town about 10 miles to the southeast, near the Indiana-Kentucky state line.
The Red Cross also offers a service to connect friends and family after such disasters. Those in areas hit by storms can log on to www.safeandwell.org and register that they are safe. Family and friends can then search on the site for their loved ones.
Help from around the state
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is sending two teams from Indianapolis, including medical specialists, to Henryville. Additionally, Indiana Task Force One has been instructed to deploy to Henryville to help with search and rescue efforts.
Officials in Henryville said late Friday night they are still in search and rescue mode, but they have hundreds of miles to cover.
Top Indiana National Guard officials were meeting late Friday afternoon to formulate a plan of action to help the towns damaged by the storm.
UPDATE 10:45 P.M.: Many Indiana State Police dispatches were reporting accidents on major roads due to slick weather conditions Sunday night.
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