Weather service continues assessment of Friday's tornadoes


The National Weather Service spent a second straight day surveying tornado damage in hard-hit southern Indiana.

They went to homes like Terri Kloepfer's in rural Jefferson County. Damage in the small town of Chelsea was rated EF-4, the same rating given to Henryville. Peak winds were estimated between 166 and 200 miles per hour. Only an EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale is higher.

Some of the clues which help survey teams assign a rating include looking at how well-built a structure is, how much of the structure remains, and, if a foundation is wiped clean, how far did the structure go. The teams walk the damage path, following it from beginning to end if possible, taking pictures and measurements. In addition to determining the intensity of a tornado, they'll determine how wide it was, how long its track was, and how long it was on the ground. FEMA teams use this data to assign a dollar amount to the damage which can help guide how much federal relief is available.

Terri Kloepfer plans to rebuild and will be needing assistance.

"I never expected to come home and find my home gone," she said.

After what happened in Chelsea and other southern Indiana towns, Kloepfer says she has a new respect for Mother Nature.

"Yeah, I'm gonna respect it. I sure am. I might even like to have a storm cellar," she said.

The National Weather Service office in Louisville, Kentucky is overseeing many of the southern Indiana damage surveys. Robert Szappanos was unable to release any additional damage ratings for other tornadoes, pending a joint meeting of the National Weather Service and FEMA, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Surveying tornado damage