Kokomo was the first stop on Pence’s damage tour of the state Monday, but Pence said he didn’t expect to see anything worse. Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly were also present for the tour, which took them through Cedar Crest, down Hoffer Street and over to the scene of the worst devastation, in the 1900 blocks of South Bell Street and South Lafountain Street.
Even without people hurt, the storm damage was heartbreaking.
Phyllis Rawlins was visiting family in Kentucky when she heard her home in the 600 block of East Ricketts Street had been blown off its foundation onto Home Avenue Sunday.
Clearly shaken, Rawlins stood by quietly Monday as members of a local Church of God and family members looked through the rubble for anything salvageable. She and her late husband, Edgar Rawlins, a local pastor, built the home eight years ago.
“We built it for our retirement, and now it’s gone,” she said.
From just west of Webster Street, through the Maple Crest shopping area, through the 1900 blocks of Bell and Lafountain streets, through several businesses along Hoffer, past U.S. 31, through the Cedar Crest subdivision and finally across Goyer Road into the Quail Run subdivision, the storm ripped a wound through the city.
Monday, survey crews from the National Weather Service said they think two EF2 tornadoes, with wind speeds of up to 120 mph, touched down in Kokomo.
One of the twisters tore a track nearly 10 miles long, lifting up and touching down again repeatedly. The second tornado was “short,” according to the weather service.
Kokomo city officials, who were up all night coordinating assistance and cleanup efforts, said 32 people went to local emergency rooms, and only five were admitted. None of those injuries were serious.
Somewhere around 60 homes were destroyed by the storm and as many as 300 homes and commercial properties were damaged. Estimates are 20 to 30 businesses were destroyed. Officials with state and federal emergency management agencies will be in Kokomo for the next several days to get an exact assessment of the damage.