Indiana storms kill 5; leave severe damage across the state
UPDATE: The Sullivan County Coroner’s Office has released the names of those who died in the Sullivan tornado on the night of March 31: Susan Kay Horton, 61, of Sullivan. Thomas Randall Horton (son of Susan Horton), 38, of Sullivan. Shane Steven Goodman, 47, of Sullivan.
UPDATE: The total number of deaths after Friday’s storm damage is 5 after conservation officers discover two campers dead at McCormick’s Creek State Park.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sullivan County is in a state of emergency after a severe storm Friday night left three dead, several homes destroyed, and thousands across Indiana without power.
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News 8 meteorologist Jesse Guinn says the tornado touched down just after 10 p.m. on Friday night, hours after severe storms moving east into Indiana warranted storm warnings throughout most of Friday.
Sullivan County officials say damage from the storm destroyed homes, knocked down powerlines, no functioning water, and have reported multiple gas leaks. Police say the line of damage covers several miles, starting near New Lebanon, which is 12 minutes from Sullivan, and moving east through the town.
Officials also say residents who don’t have to leave should stay in their homes so emergency responders and utility workers can travel safely. Officers warn the public of potential live power lines down across yards and roads.
Originally tweeted by Jason Ronimous (@jwronimous) on April 1, 2023.
The Whiteland Fire Chief told News 8’s Lakyn McGee that the firehouse was hit in the storm while firefighters had been called out on duty. No one was reported injured.
Police say emergency shelters are set at Abundant Grace Church in Sullivan, the Sullivan City Hall building, and Whiteland Community School. There is food, water, diapers, sleeping mats, and medics available.
Officials also told News 8’s Adam Pinsker that buses are available to transport those in need of shelter to Greenwood Middle School, which has power.
Eric Halvorson, a spokesperson with Kroger, responded to the Whiteland Police via Twitter Saturday that Kroger would be sending several pallets of water and snack supplies to Greenwood Middle School to assist in emergency efforts.
Halvorson also says that Kroger has opened a donation at central Indiana stores for those who wish to help with the recovery efforts. Kroger cashiers will be able to ring a “disaster relief” key at checkout where customers can specify the amount they want to donate.
Whiteland police said Saturday morning through a post on Twitter that officers searched the area and confirmed everyone was safe. Officials say the Red Cross is performing a second search.
Sergeant Matt Ames with the Indiana State Police confirmed to News 8 that at least 3 have been killed in the damage, all within Sullivan county. The individuals have not been identified.
The Mayor of Sullivan, Clint Lamb, made a live announcement via Facebook Saturday morning regarding the storm and how the city plans to move forward.
Lamb says the damage is “unbelievable, like something straight from a movie.” He warned residents to not return to their properties while emergency crews survey the damage.
Lamb says that the United States Army Reserve in Evansville is coming to survey the area and ensure what buildings are left standing are safe. He says it is expected to take months to clear the debris.
News 8’s Lakyn McGee spoke with a Whiteland resident on how the storm’s “direct hit” affected them.
Damage across Indiana cities
Downtown Martinsville experienced severe damage, as well. Reports say excavators worked Saturday morning to remove tree branches, parts of buildings, and other large debris.
Ft. Wayne also experienced damage with chicken coops and power lines scattered in the area.
Indiana State Police say that campers in McCormick’s Creek State Park, thirty minutes southwest of Martinsville, had to be evacuated. Officers say no one was injured. The park announced on Facebook it would be closed to daytime guests at this time.
Damage was also reported in Kokomo, as well, on Highway 19 between Kokomo and Tipton.
Several semis were blown over and stranded along Interstate 65, along with trees, powerlines, and cars thrown across the highway.
Nearly 30,000 homes across the state are without power, the majority of the outages being in Johnson County. The AES Indiana reports 2,400 in the Indianapolis area without power.
Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess says US-31 is closed southbound at Tracy Road in New Whiteland due to downed power lines.
State Road 252 in Morgan County is closed, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation, due to trees blocking the road. INDOT says the road will be closed for at least a day.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security has placed a travel advisory over Sullivan County.
Whiteland County Police and Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office are posting active updates via Facebook and Twitter. News 8 will update with further information once it is available.
If you are experiencing a power outage, contact the AES Indiana power outage line at 317-261-8111.
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