INDIANAPOLIS – Tornadoes that touched down in central Indiana tore roofs off apartment buildings, sent air conditioners falling onto parked cars and cut power to thousands of people, but left no one seriously injured.
About a dozen people suffered minor injuries as the twisters moved through the area Wednesday, Indiana State Police Capt. David Bursten said. Most of those injuries were in Howard County and included a resident who was trapped in a home by one of the storms.
A 5-month-old child who suffered a laceration in Montgomery County was among the injured, Bursten said. He added that residents took the approaching storms seriously, which he thinks prevented more injuries from occurring.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said there was “substantial damage to property” in his city and that “a lot of trees are down.”
Authorities said eight funnel clouds were spotted throughout the afternoon Wednesday. It was unclear how many touched down.
A preliminary survey showed an EF3 tornado with maximum winds of 165 mph struck Kokomo, about 40 miles north of Indianapolis, National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Herold said.
At the Park Place Apartments in Kokomo, maintenance technician Mitchell Carlson described the scene as “a madhouse.” He said the complex has 16 buildings and “probably eight of them don’t have a roof” after the storm. Falling tree limbs and air conditioners damaged 20 to 30 cars, he said.
But no one was injured at the apartments, he said, adding: “So, I guess we’re all blessed at the Park Place.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said he’ll tour Howard and Montgomery counties on Thursday to assess the damage. The Republican vice presidential candidate returned to his home state Wednesday evening. He was campaigning in North Carolina when the Indiana twisters touched down.
He said he had a “grateful heart” that there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, and that he would remain in the state “as long as we need” to make sure people affected by the storms have the necessary support.
Utility companies reported more than 32,000 customers were without power in the state as of Wednesday night.
Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman said the area faced tornado damage to homes and businesses in 2013 and “will bounce back once again.” The previous twister injured nearly three dozen people.
A toppled Starbucks in Kokomo was among the buildings hit Wednesday. Starbucks released a statement on its website, saying workers and customers at the damaged coffee shop were safe.
Indiana University Kokomo canceled all Wednesday evening events on campus because of the severe weather. School officials in Avon, near Indianapolis, cited the storms in ordering all buses to return to the nearest school. The buses were allowed to start moving again a short time later.
Associated Press writer Rick Callahan contributed to this report from Indianapolis.