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June tornado adds to insurance claims in Johnson County after March twisters

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Twice in three months, portions of Johnson County have been hit by violent storms with tornadoes.

No one was injured or killed in the storms that produced two tornadoes March 31 and another twister Sunday, the National Weather Service reported.

I-Team 8 was told Tuesday that people who suffered damage from the March 31 storm are still waiting on insurance companies to settle claims.

Bargersville Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser said, “We have heard a lot. There has been so much damage in the area, and every insurance company has been different. We have definitely heard, ‘I had damage at my house from the last storm. I’m still working with insurance,’ and it has been three months later.”

The News 8 Avi8tor drone shows widespread and extensive damage from Sunday’s tornado. Will insurance cover all the damage from Sunday’s tornado? If past experience is the barometer, probably not.

Funkhouser said, “So, I know there are a lot of people having trouble getting people to call them back, having people give them answers and then not wanting to cover as much as they were hoping for when filing their claims.”

Randell Lee says he hopes his insurance company will come through. He has lived in a house on Travis Road in Greenwood since 1978. He planted most of the trees, and built garages for his car collection. Life was going along just fine until Sunday afternoon when a tornado almost swept him and his house away.

“So, I got in the laundry room and then closed the door. Minute later, it was over, but I couldn’t get out of the house because the doors was all messed up, and the neighbors they came, run down and kicked in the back door.”

The tornado took the roof of his house and spread it across the county. The garages he built were reduced to rubble. His trees will be next winter’s firewood.  

For almost a mile down Travis Road, power lines were downed, trees were splintered, and tarps covered the damage to homes. On Tuesday, a chorus of utility line workers, tree trimmers and volunteers worked to clear the mess.

Martha Smith and her husband were sitting on their back porch when the tornado came barreling down the center of the road. “We heard the sirens and then we heard the train and headed for the basement.”

By the time they got inside, the tornado had passed.

The damage to their home has forced them into temporary arrangements. She is waiting for the insurance company to assess the damage. She says the insurance adjuster was scheduled to visit Tuesday. 

Johnson County officials are preparing a local disaster declaration. The state government may follow suit. 

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)