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Tornadoes Kill 3 in Ohio, Crews Searching for Others

Written by on March 15, 2024

Tornadoes tore through several central U.S. states, flattening homes and trailers in an RV park and killing at least three people, authorities said. Crews and cadaver dogs searched for more victims in the rubble Friday.

Thursday night’s storms left trails of destruction across parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. About 40 people were injured and dozens of homes damaged in one Indiana community. Tornadoes were also suspected in Illinois and Missouri.

It appeared the worst hit was the Indian Lake area in Ohio’s Logan County, northwest of Columbus, with the villages of Lakeview and Russells Point devastated. At least three people died, said Sheriff Randy Dodds.

Search crews went into neighborhoods that had been blocked by gas leaks and fallen trees overnight and made a second pass in areas that were checked in the darkness right after the storm, Dodds said.

“It’s going to take a long time,” he said, adding he wasn’t aware of anybody unaccounted for. Earlier, the sheriff told NBC’s “Today” show that he expected more victims would be found.

In Lakeview, Sandy Smith was walking down the stairs with her cat to seek shelter in a laundry room with her family when the roof came down.

“A couple flashes of light, and then everything just peppered against the house,” she said. Her husband then saw their garage blow away.

The storm sheared off the tops of homes and damaged a campground and laundromat, leaving twisted metal wrapped in the tops of trees. Snowplows cleared debris from roads.

The storm produced fires in some spots and draped power lines through home windows, said Amber Fagan, president of the local chamber of commerce.

Many of the homes in the area are used as summer cottages by people who come for fishing and boating.

Blaine Schmidt, 34, sifted through broken glass and splintered wood, looking for anything salvageable. He rescued a guitar. Most everything else, including his furniture and a crib, was destroyed. Toy dinosaurs were scattered in his lawn near the front of the house, which had been peeled open, exposing a couch that had been torn apart.

He heard tornado sirens moments before the storm hit Lakeview. He took shelter in his bathtub, using the shower curtain to protect him and his roommate from shattered glass. “I’m lucky to be alive,” Schmidt said.

Weather officials had yet to confirm many of the tornadoes, but across the region, awestruck residents captured funnels on video.

In Indiana, a tornado injured 38 people in Winchester, officials said, but it appears no one died.

Residents of the town of 4,700 about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis picked tree branches and sheet metal from their yards Friday. Shingles littered streets and fields. The high school was serving as a temporary shelter.

Carey Todd, 55, said the tornado looked like a “a bunch of black birds.”

A church was destroyed. A few remnants still stood, as well as a mural depicting a flowing river, with a white awning still attached. A sign below the mural read, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

The storm damaged or destroyed about 130 homes and a Taco Bell restaurant, Mayor Bob McCoy said. He and his wife hunkered in a closet when the twister hit around 8 p.m.

“I’ve never heard that sound before; I don’t want to hear it again,” McCoy said.

West of Winchester, officials said as many as half the structures in the town of Selma, population 750, might have been damaged. Only minor injuries were reported, emergency officials said in a news release.

Gov. Eric Holcomb praised first responders in Indiana, saying: “By the grace of God, everyone has lived through it all.”

Another tornado damaged homes and toppled trees in Huron County in northern Ohio, officials said, but no deaths or injuries were reported. Storms also damaged homes and trailers in the Ohio River communities of Hanover and Lamb in Indiana.

In Milton, Kentucky, two people were injured when their car was hit by debris from a tornado that damaged about 100 homes and businesses, said Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark.

In Arkansas, a probable tornado struck the retirement community of Hot Springs Village, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Little Rock, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Erik Green.

Baseball-sized hail also fell, and some buildings were destroyed, but there were no reports of fatalities or injuries, Green said.

There were reports of tornadoes in Jefferson County, Missouri, and Monroe County, Illinois.

More severe weather was forecast Friday for parts of the South, with the possibility of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

 

By Associated Press


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