INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WANE) — A tornado-producing storm hit central Indiana on Tuesday, damaging homes southwest of Indianapolis and downing power lines and uprooting trees in the city and its suburbs, authorities said.
According to The Indianapolis Star, it was an EF-1 Category tornado that touched down near the Hendricks County and Marion County line, producing winds up to 100 miles per hour. A storm survey team could officially label the strength of the tornado as early as Wednesday.
It was one of several thunderstorms that sprang up in southwestern Indiana near Terre Haute and became more severe as they moved northeast toward Indianapolis. National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Ryan said the tornado struck in the afternoon just southwest of Indianapolis and caused extensive damage to at least three homes.
That storm then headed into Indianapolis, where Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said city emergency officials received reports of house and tree damage and downed power lines on the southwest side of the city.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers said no injuries were reported. “That’s the good news,” he said.
The city of Indianapolis opened an operations center to organize its response to the storm, Chief of Homeland Security of Indianapolis Gary Coons said.
“We’re not sure if it was straight-line winds or if a tornado quickly touched down, lost energy, and then went back up,” Coons said.
Coons’ command center was at the heart of the damage Tuesday evening. It was along the Hendricks County and Marion County border, with the heaviest damage near the east side of Plainfield on County Road 200 South.
Amongst the damage was Don Rackley’s home, where his neighbor’s RV landed in his front yard while taking out part of his home.
“My daughter-in-law called me and said there’s a tornado by your place,” Rackley said. “So I grabbed the kids, went to the bathroom, and closed the door. I heard a big eruption, like a big explosion…what it was was the trailer hitting the house. We just stayed in there until we heard someone later. It was quiet, then I heard people coming through hollering ‘Hey, anybody in here?’ and we came out and I was just devastated.”
Many homes on both sides of the county line had blue tarps on their roofs, covering the damage from the storm.
Raul Lopez’s home suffered damage to the front end, including broken windows.
“We see everything like this in the movies, or in the news, on TV,” Lopez said. “But never in real life. Everything you build up, you can build it up again if it falls. Life is life, you got to save the important part.”
Officials from the Red Cross told Newschannel 15 that around 20 people were displaced from their homes due to the storms.
Indianapolis Power and Light Co. reported more than 1,600 customers without service shortly after the storm in a second straight day of storm-related outages in the city.
As the storm moved into the northern suburb of Carmel, Duke Energy reported about 100 customers without power.
Heavy rains accompanying the storms prompted the weather service to issue flash flood warnings for much of central Indiana.