It was the worst storm to hit Kokomo since the deadly 1965 Palm Sunday tornado and it took a very similar path through town, from Maple Crest northeast through the American Legion Golf Course area and out to Cedar Crest. Those who remember the Palm Sunday tornado said it tracked a bit farther south on its way out to Cedar Crest, damaging the Chrysler plants between Boulevard and Lincoln Road.
“Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for what I’ve just witnessed,” U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita said. “The pictures you’ve seen on TV or online just don’t do any of this justice.”
Businesses hit included a Soupley’s liquor store, Eriks Chevrolet, the Hewlett Packard building on East Hoffer Street, Rally’s at Hoffer and U.S. 31 and several others.
About a half mile south from the track of the main tornado, the city’s Fire Station 6 was badly damaged.
Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said the manufacturer’s plants escaped with little or no damage.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the timing was extremely fortunate, in that most people were aware of the approaching storm and took precautions.
But emergency responders had difficulty getting to damage sites Sunday, prompting a joint city/county emergency declaration aimed mainly at discouraging sightseeing.
With the afternoon wearing on Monday, there were still more than 7,000 people without power in Howard County. Duke Energy officials said power should be restored to all storm damaged areas by today.
City work crews have been out since the storm, collecting limbs and debris. Trash collection was canceled Monday, due in part to heavy damage to one of the city street department’s storage facilities.
‘I didn’t know if the house was going to explode’
The path of the main tornado was somewhere between 100 and 200 yards wide at different points. In the 1900 block of South Bell, Jennifer Goins’ flagpole snapped off on the corner of her property, but there was little other damage. Next door and across the street, homes were destroyed.