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Winchester community shaken by destructive tornado

Devastating tornado damage

WINCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) — Greg Saulmon and his wife had a tearful reunion inside a coffeehouse that would normally be closed in the afternoon but was only open because people in the Winchester community needed a place to go.

Saulmon told I-Team 8 he was watching News 8 moments before the tornado hit.

“The newscaster mentioned that if you live in Winchester, you need to take shelter immediately, so I went to the bathroom and told my wife, ‘It’s coming,’” Saulmon said.

Moments later, the tornado ripped the roof off his house.

“For the next 20 seconds, it was sheer pandemonium,” Saulmon said.

In those 20 seconds, debris swirled around them.

“I got hit in the head and neck with two-by-fours,” Saulmon said.

Saulmon was checked out at the hospital. He was in good condition.

Officials say dozens were injured because of the tornado. Three were in critical condition.

Connie Hawley told me she’s fortunate her family escaped uninjured.

“Our emergency system is really phenomenal because that was the thing that saved us,” Hawley said.

When her family got the alert on their phone, they rushed to the bathroom.

“It got quiet, and then really loud, and you could hear things hitting the house, and you could just hear,” Hawley said. “It was like, ‘Boom, boom, boom’ for like 30 seconds of intensity, and then got eerily quiet. We waited a couple more minutes and then we came outside, and you just see all this damage.”

That damage could be seen all over Winchester. Trees into houses. Mattresses on roofs. Flipped cars. Buildings completely destroyed.

Who does Saulmon give thanks to that he and his wife are alive? 

“You just have to look up, and you know that your faith is one of the main reasons why things are the way they are,” Saulmon said.

Both Saulmon and Hawley said they are so grateful for how the community has responded to the tornado. With businesses opening up when they should be closed, people lending clothes to others in need, and people supplying food.