KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — It’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana. More than two years ago, a tornado ripped through the city of Kokomo. One man who lived through the storm is hoping his story will prompt families to have a plan before the storm hits.
A state of emergency was issued for Howard County after eight different tornado touchdowns were confirmed. Between 300 and 800 people were displaced.
It’s a day Tommy Williams will never forget.
“Three different tornados have taken the same path through this neighborhood three years apart,” he said.
A new house sits on the lot where Williams used to live until Aug. 23, 2016.
“I had to climb through one of those windows in order to get into the house to go through and see I could find any of the dogs,” he said. “Even driving by the area, you see the trees looking like they are now and it’s a constant reminder.”
A tornado ripped off part of Williams’ former house. Trees were lying on the ground snapped in half and most of his belongings were scattered on the ground.
“The moment you think you don’t have to worry about it is the moment you do,” Williams said.
Luckily, Williams was at the doctors’ office when the tornado touched down. But his four dogs were trapped inside his house.
“We starting digging through the debris and found one at a time,” he said. “Surprisingly, by the grace of God, all four of them were alive and the last one we found was with my mom’s Bible and her ashes.”
There are now new tenants in the house. Williams has moved to a new neighborhood. He says he never had a plan for severe weather which he regrets. Now, he’s got a plan in place and wants others to have one too.
“You got to get your loved ones in a safe spot because it doesn’t take long to lose it,” he said.
Williams says the storm is in the past but the memories are still fresh. He says there’s no chance he’ll step foot near this house again.
“It was one of the worst days of my life,” Williams said.
About 20 people were injured in the tornado, mostly from flying debris. State police credit working emergency systems alerting residents to the dangerous weather as a big reason for the lack of injuries.