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‘Look for the helpers’ after a tornado rips through Whiteland

WHITELAND, Ind. (WISH) — Whenever there is a disaster, there is always an outpouring of support from people looking to help, and in Whiteland, countless people have stepped up to the plate.

“There was a group going through today just handing out hotdogs,” said Eric Funkhouser, the Whiteland Fire Department Chief.

People are still out of power, homes were knocked clean off their foundations, and debris littered the streets, but the helpers came ready to feed those putting it back together.

“We are out doing some mobile feeding and bringing some snacks, drinks, pizza, mobile hydration, and spiritual care. Some people just need some prayer because they’ve had a rough day,” said Mary Thomas, member of the Salvation Army.

Funkhouser said people are working hard to get things picked up.

“Everybody is still in the area. We’re trying to make sure we can get power back on to as many neighborhoods as we can,” Funkhouser said. “We are trying to get all the roadways opened back up. Being in the recovery phase, we’re trying to get everything opened up, trying to get people to move through, and try to clean up after all the damage that’s gone on.”

Funkhouser said he has not seen anything like this in Johnson County in his life.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen this level of destruction that basically started on one end of the county and worked its way to the northeast portion of the county,” Funkhouser said. “It’s basically a long track that it took leaving a trail of destruction behind.”

Thomas said she is called to help others as they fight through this destruction.

“We are really blessed. We believe God would want us to treat others the way we would want to be treated,” Thomas said “I live in Southport, 11 miles from this location, and I know how scary it can be if you get affected by a tornado.”

Thomas has been with the Salvation Army for 37 years and responded to disaster sites across the Midwest.

Officials estimate it will take months to clean up the extensive damage in Whiteland.