Weather Stories

Camp Atterbury to rebuild Post Chapel after tornado topples steeple, destroys organ

EDINBURGH, Ind. (WISH) — The National Weather Service in Indianapolis said three tornadoes touched down in three central Indiana counties on Saturday.

The confirmed tornadoes hit Johnson, Brown and Shelby counties.

On Monday, crews worked to clean up damage at Camp Atterbury, where the weather service said a weak tornado touched down. Winds from the storm were so strong that they blew the steeple off an 80-year-old church on the base.

“The church was built in 1942, while Camp Atterbury was used during World War II. We’ve had stories of people getting married here before they shipped off to the war,” said Lt. Col. Bill Ward.

Plywood from the Post Chapel’s roof was also found under cars tires.

Inside the chapel, the carpet is gone and some of the wood is damaged. Ward said the chapel’s piano and organ are beyond repair.

“But one thing that they were able to salvage was the spire on top of the steeple,” Ward said.

Just a few miles away on Saturday, Chris Burton was mowing his lawn when the storm rolled in. He said he quickly took cover and captured the beginning of the rain and wind on his phone. “As the video went on and I was standing there, the wind started picking up and whistling and I was like, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be out here,’” Burton said.

Fortunately, Burton said, the property damage was minimal. “We got the one big tree limb, but mostly it was just small branches and it picked up pretty good. I think the house blocked the majority of the wind,” Burton said.

As for the chapel, Ward said, they are going to restore every piece possible so it can be up and running for another 80 years. “There’s still a lot that’s there. The pews inside are still intact, a lot of the old structure, but, yeah, we will be able to use most of it again once it’s rebuilt,” Ward said.

Ward said the Post Chapel is the only building on base that is still used for religious services.