Breaking News
More () »

Whiteland family devastated by tornado prepares to leave home

Families hit hard by Friday's tornado packed up boxes and boarded up windows, cleaning up what's left of their homes.

WHITELAND, Ind. — Just days after destructive tornadoes swept through central Indiana, the work to clean up after the storm is continuing in Whiteland

On Monday, utility crews worked for hours to repair downed power lines. Families hit hard by the tornado pack up boxes and board up windows, working to clean up what's left of their homes.

"I didn't think we were ever going to have to move again," said Carolyn King, whose Whiteland home was destroyed by a tornado.

It was a home she never expected to leave. King and her husband Larry, together with family, friends and community members, now work to pack it up.

"Yeah, wow," King said. "This is hard."

Tornadoes that hit central Indiana on Friday night have torn apart nearly every home on her block. 

"This lady over here lost her home, she's 90 years old. Bless her heart, she couldn't get out of her house," King said. "These people here, I don't know how they survived that. The whole half of the house is gone. Our garage is gone."

Credit: WTHR

The destruction left behind now sits out on Whiteland lawns. Still, what's here is a far better sight than after the storm first hit. But getting everything torn down and cleaned up will take time, according to Eric Funkhouser, Whiteland's fire chief and incident commander. 

"This is just going to be a process. It'll take months before it's all said and done," Funkhouser said. "But the progress that we’ve seen in 72 hours in this community is amazing."

Funkhouser said roads in the area are now back open, except where U.S. 31 is down to one lane. Throughout the day Monday, utility crews worked tirelessly to get the lights back on for residents whose homes are still standing.

With another round of severe weather expected Tuesday night, emergency crews are keeping a close eye on the next storm's path.

Credit: WTHR

"With power being out in some of these areas, we talked today about one of the tornado sirens may not be functional. So we're going to go through the neighborhoods tomorrow and just talk to people," Funkhouser said. "These structures are not stable structures after having one storm go through with that amount of wind and all the damage. We want people to find a safe place."

As the sun sets on the King home Monday, her hope for the Whiteland community is rising.

"I renewed my faith in people. It's amazing. It's been amazing the help. The Red Cross, people coming by, I didn't even have to try and find resources," King said. 

A steady stream of food, supplies and volunteers have come past their home throughout the day, everyone ready to help. 

"A high school student came and helped us, and we didn't even know them, and they worked all day," King said. "All day."

With so much of the lives her family built now scattered to the wind, King said it's gratitude filling their family, their community, back up.

"It's ... I don't even have words," King said. "We're so thankful. We're so thankful we're OK and none of our neighbors were harmed."

The Town of Whiteland is under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. for nonessential travel to keep emergency personnel and the community safe. The town is also still under a water boil advisory for residents who get their water through Whiteland Utilities.

Those interested in volunteering to help Whiteland tornado victims or anyone in the community in need of help or resources can contact 317-671-6521 or email whitelandtornadorelief@gmail.com.

Those looking to make financial donations to help the Whiteland tornado victims can do so through the Johnson County Community Foundation.

Clark-Pleasant Schools will be closed again Tuesday and Wednesday. Whiteland Community High School's principal said his staff will likely be out again both days, volunteering. 

School officials said Thursday and Friday will be on modified schedule, which will include the middle school and high school having e-learning and elementary students attending in-person as normal. Clark-Pleasant Early Learning Center will not have classes the remainder of the week.

Dumpsters have been placed around the town and are available 24 hours a day for residents to use.

An ice station will be available to residents beginning Tuesday, April 4 after 8 a.m. in the Whiteland Community High School parking lot, located at 300 E. Main St.

Also, a family resource center will be available beginning Tuesday, April 4 for affected residents to connect with providers on navigating resources available to help them through this time. The family resource center will be located at the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation Administration Building at 50 Center St. and will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Residents who need supplies from donated items can pick them up beginning Tuesday, April 4 at Heaven & Earth Church, located at 309 E. Main St., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Before You Leave, Check This Out