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Johnson County faces more cleanup with 3rd tornado in 3 months

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — A homeowner on Tuesday said he dodged March’s tornado but wasn’t so lucky this time.

Joel McCall said Sunday’s tornado hit his neighborhood in White River Township without warning. As he was pulling a package off his porch, his son spotted the tornado coming across the pond behind their home.

“He saw it when it was coming in the middle of the lake and he knew it was heading our way,” he said. “Sure enough, it was a direct hit and that’s when he started screaming for me to get in the basement.”

McCall and his family weren’t injured, but the twister tore off much of their roof. They spent Sunday night at their neighbor’s home across the street. Roofing contractors have told them it’s not safe for them to stay in their house due to potential structural issues, so they’re staying with their in-laws nearby. McCall said it will be at least a month before it’s safe to move back in.

The National Weather Service estimates the tornado that hit Johnson County on Sunday had winds of up to 115 mph and carved a path 5.4 miles long and up to 400 yards wide. It’s the third tornado to hit the county in less than three months; none of the three recorded any injuries or deaths.

On the night of March 31, a twister tore through the heart of Whiteland. The path of that storm went between McCall’s home and a pair of businesses he owns in Franklin.

“When the Whiteland tornado hit, I thought, ‘My God, how fortunate am I it went right between?’” he said. “And so a few months later, my house gets a direct hit. It’s absolutely strange.”

Stephanie Sichting, the executive director of the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency, said the county has not fully recovered from the March storms but Sunday’s storm is unlikely to interfere with the process. Unlike in Whiteland, where most of the damaged homes were either uninsured or underinsured, Sichting said, nearly all of the homes damaged in White River Township were fully insured. For now, she said, Johnson County’s main request has been for a volunteer brush-clearing group through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Sichting said homeowners in the area need donations of tarps and cleaning supplies. Those can be dropped off at the White River Township Trustee’s office, 2929 S. Morgantown Road, or at Mount Pleasant Christian Church,  381 N. Bluff Road. Monetary donations can go to organizations such as the American Red Cross.

Sichting said people should not come to the affected area with chainsaws to look for yards to clear. She said the state has a process to vet volunteers affiliated with specific groups such as churches.

Travis Road on Tuesday remained closed to traffic around the Kensington Grove subdivision while crews cleared brush and removed downed power lines.

Sichting said a curfew is in place in the affected area from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Monday.

News release

“Residents of Orange, Johnson and Monroe counties are asked to contact Indiana 211 to report damage from Sunday’s severe storms.

“To help establish a comprehensive assessment of damage, residents can call 211 or visit the Indiana 211 website. Collecting assessments via this process will help IDHS determine damage estimates and develop the next course of action in the disaster recovery process.

“Currently, only residents in Orange, Johnson and Monroe counties should utilize Indiana 211 for damage reports. Other counties should reach out to their local emergency manager.

“Agricultural damage should be reported to the Purdue Extension.”

Indiana Department of Homeland Security news released issued 2:31 p.m. June 27, 2023

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(WISH Image)