Goshen News, Goshen, IN

November 17, 2013

Elkhart County avoids major storm damage

STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
Goshen News

---- — GOSHEN — The car wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Late Sunday afternoon, Mike Truex stood in front of his home at 628 S. Sixth St. He looked at what was visible of a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt. He saw the tree and limbs that had been blown on top of it.

“My son saw it. I heard it,” Truex said of the damage from the storm that hit Goshen around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. “He was out on the front porch just before it came down, and as soon as he came in, the tree came down.”

The fortunate thing, according to Truex, is that nobody got hurt.

“Belongings can be replaced,” he said.

The quick-hitting storm Sunday was part of a long line of storms that raked the Midwest throughout the day. In Elkhart County the main casualty was powerlines.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. personnel were reporting “significant outages” as of 8 p.m. Sunday, with a total 41,950 customers affected. Local communities impacted included Goshen, 298 NIPSCO customers without power; Cromwell, 2,005; Syracuse, 1,449; Ligonier, 720; Milford, 100; Wakarusa, 270; Leesburg, 234; New Paris, 28; and Bristol, 35.

While Elkhart County seemed to escape the worst of the storm, other Indiana communities weren’t so lucky.

Gov. Mike Pence said 12 counties reported either tornadoes or damage after the initial line of storms had traveled midway across Indiana. Pence told The Associated Press he plans to visit the hardest-hit communities of Kokomo, Lafayette and Washington on Monday. All three suffered significant property damage, and several injuries were reported in Kokomo.

Pence says it’s too soon to say whether the state will seek disaster assistance.

The governor praised the work of emergency responders, community leaders and residents who heeded warnings throughout the fast-moving storms.

Pence says he’s grateful no one died in Indiana and that his heart goes out to storm victims in Illinois.

“Significant damage has been reported in Lebanon, Indiana, and Washington, Indiana,” Pence said in a telephone interview while monitoring reports from the Emergency Operations Center of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security in downtown Indianapolis.

The initial line of storms traveled at a ground speed of 50-70 mph, Pence said. The National Weather Service reported a tornado damaged several houses in Washington.

Kokomo city development specialist David Tharp says there’s multiple minor injuries there. He did not know how many.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said Sunday’s storm that damaged large swaths of his city is the worst he’s seen in 48 years living there.

Goodnight said Sunday night he’s grateful no deaths have been reported. He says crews planned to continue work through the night clearing debris and restoring power to residents.

The city has declared a state of emergency, and Kokomo police have asked residents to stay home and off the streets.

The city police department sent photos of buildings with roofs torn off, a destroyed bank branch and other updates on its Twitter account.

In Grant County Emergency Management Director Bruce Bender said one person was injured when two or three mobile homes rolled over at the Summit Village Trailer Park. Bender says four homes have been damaged, including two extensively between Marion and the town of Sweetser.

In Indianapolis an iconic former post office in Irvington largely collapsed Sunday when the storms blew through. Photographs show bricks from the building littering the intersection and most of the building’s walls disintegrated.

The 1903 structure had not been used as a post office for years and had been slated for demolition in 2012. But members of the Irvington Development Organization arranged to acquire the building and were in the process of raising money to stabilize it in hopes of saving it.

An April fundraiser brought in $12,000, and the development group had recently received another $50,000 grant for the work.

In Montgomery County a small barn was blown across Ind. 28 and trees and power lines were down across the area, Riley said.

State police reported knee-deep water off Interstate 465 exit ramp lanes on Indianapolis’ east side. The weather service reported 1¼ inches of rain fell in a 90-minute period in the Owen County town of Gosport, about five miles southwest of Indianapolis.

The Fountain County Emergency Management Agency reported a truck was blown over on I-74 about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

The weather service says a trained weather spotter measured a wind gust of 80 mph in Crown Point in northwestern Indiana.

The Indiana Toll Road banned some trucks Sunday because of the threat of high winds. The ban affected triple, long-double and high-profile oversize permit loads.

Sunday’s storm also toppled a tree in front of Aaron Mishler’s home at 524 S. Fifth St., Goshen.

Mishler said he had been inside watching football when he saw some movement through the window “and heard just a pretty loud thump. And (the tree) was down. It was relatively quick. It was a high gust.” Mishler said the falling tree damaged a vehicle that was parked out front.

Inside Read more on the severe storms and tornadoes that raked the Midwest Sunday afternoon. A9