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Officials outline next steps in state tornado response

Devastating tornado damage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Emergency management officials on Friday told News 8 damage assessments over the next 3-4 days will help determine what services are needed in tornado-ravaged areas.

Thirty-eight people were hurt when an EF3-rated tornado ripped through Delaware and Randolph counties Thursday night, shredding buildings in Selma and Winchester. Indiana Task Force 1 was activated just before 11 p.m. to help with search and rescue efforts, and left for Winchester around 2:30 a.m. Friday. Mary Moran, the director of emergency management and preparedness for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said the search and rescue phase was completed by early Friday afternoon and Task Force 1 was demobilized. Now, she said the focus is shifting to the towns’ recovery needs.

“We will analyze the information that we have, look at the levels of damage, determine what kinds of programs we could potentially bring to the table and then start messaging out that information,” said Moran.

For example, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority provided housing assistance in the aftermath of last year’s tornado in Sullivan. Officials with that agency told News 8 they are awaiting word from IDHS if they will be needed. An Indiana National Guard spokesperson said the Guard has not received any orders to deploy to the area, but is on standby in case that changes.

Moran said anyone whose property was damaged should call 211 or their local emergency management agencies. She said this will help IDHS get a more accurate picture of the area’s needs. In the coming days, Moran said IDHS will announce additional resources and make further information available online.

In the meantime, state troopers are patrolling the affected areas. Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said anyone who does not have a home in the affected areas needs to stay out. He said anyone who finds what might be someone’s belongings lying in a field should turn them in so authorities can return them to their rightful owners.

“If you find something out there, it’s not yours,” Carter said. “That property belongs to somebody. So, it’s another thing that we’re probably going to experience now.”

FEMA officials said they are monitoring conditions in Indiana, but have not yet received any requests for assistance. Moran said it’s too soon to say if FEMA or the National Guard will be needed.