Nappanee under state of emergency after 20 homes destroyed - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Nappanee under state of emergency after 20 homes destroyed

An aerial photograph shows the extent of the damage to this Nappanee neighborhood. An aerial photograph shows the extent of the damage to this Nappanee neighborhood.
Damage to the inside of a Nappanee home. Damage to the inside of a Nappanee home.

Nappanee - A state trooper said it looks like Nappanee, Indiana got hit by a bomb. A tornado ripped through the northern Indiana city last night, injuring five people and damaging approximately 250 homes and businesses.

Five people were taken to hospitals with what police said were minor injuries. State police say up to 250 buildings were damaged, with 100 to 150 of those destroyed or severely damaged. The National Weather Service said the tornado last night had winds of up to 160 mph.

The city in Elkhart County is under a state of emergency. Police are asking residents of Nappanee not to travel and a boil order is in effect.

Residents used flashlights Thursday night to see extent of the damage. One home in Nappanee was crushed by powerful winds. Cars are covered by splintered wood and debris.

"It was terrifying. It really was," said Greg Garle, who was storm-spotting when he came to a house blown off its foundation. "They were trapped inside the house. We had to go in and get stuff out. The neighbor lady, the window blew in on her. Cut her legs up real bad."

Another man and his two young daughters were trapped in their truck under live power lines for more than three hours. Red spray paint on the front doors represents where emergency crews went door-to-door looking for victims.

Several businesses in Nappanee were destroyed, including Gulfstream coach, an RV manufacturing company.

One trooper told Eyewitness News it looked like a bomb went off and called it the worst damage he's seen in nine years of covering storm damage.

"Words can't express. You see it other places. But you just don't think it's going to hit here," said one tornado victim.

The high winds sheered off an entire section of a roof and ripped away a wall.

"I've lost my whole lifetime of everything, but when you saw where I was sitting, there was a big two by six beam - support beam - across the chair where I was sitting. So I'm very fortunate I didn't get hurt," said one woman.

Along with twenty homes, several businesses, including a Dairy Queen, KFC/Taco Bell, Express Lube and a travel trailer manufacturer, were destroyed.

Hail hit counties in northern, central and southern Indiana. Officials in Pulaski County say golf-ball-sized hail damaged a car. The same storm system caused scattered damage elsewhere in Indiana and tornadoes touched down in Kentucky and Michigan.

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Tippecanoe Co. funnel cloud

There were no reports of tornadoes in central Indiana despite several reports of funnel clouds. The lightning made for quite a light show along I-65 between Lebanon and Lafayette. In between blasts of wind and heavy rain, one storm spotter in southern Tippecanoe County told Eyewitness News what he saw in a series of lightning flashes.

"Just the perfect shape of a funnel cloud. Then the next lightning flash it moved across and with the final lightning i saw it go back in," said Capt. Terry Grossman, Tippecanoe Co. Emergency Management Agency.

He said the funnel never made it to the ground.

Owensboro, KY damage

People in western Kentucky believe a tornado is responsible for damage and injuries sustained last night. One woman says she had to run for her life.

"As I was going down the basement stairs, my ceiling was falling in behind me and we just pushed the kids down the basement and laid down on top of them," said Kathy Greenwood.

The severe weather hit south of Evansville, Indiana. Witnesses say as many as seven homes were severely damaged and injuries are reported in that area.

"We were talking to the EMT's and they told us that there was a car that was involved with a tornado or alleged tornado and that there were four injuries involved with that and then there was a house in that same area," said Carol Smith, Red Cross.

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