Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 11, 2013

High winds, rain leave parts of Peru in shambles

National Weather Service has yet to classify storm as a tornado.

Peru — Destructive winds blasting through Peru at more than 80 miles an hour Wednesday afternoon left wide-spread damage in its path, including flipped cars, crumbled houses, uprooted trees and downed power lines that knocked out electricity to around 60 percent of the city.

Despite the devastation left in the storm’s wake, no injuries were reported, according the Peru Police Department.

“You have to thank God for that,” said Peru Mayor Jim Walker. “We’re very thankful for that.”

Fallen tree limbs littered every street after the storm, but the city’s west side experienced the worst damage. On West 2nd Street, trees smashed through houses and winds tore off entire roofs and decimated a large backyard garage.

Businesses on West Main Street also sustained massive damage, including Aldi, Arby’s and Wendy’s. The storm turned the drive-in area at B&K into rubble, and smashed cars and trucks into a pile at the Kroger parking lot.

Massive trees over 100 years old stretched across parts of Maconaquah Park on the city’s south side. Down the road at a mobile-home area off of Ind. 19, a storage trailer lay in pieces after winds blew it over 15 feet away from its foundation.

“For as serious as it could have been, we’re thankful no one got hurt,” said Peru Police Chief Jonie Kennedy.

Many witnesses in Peru said they saw a tornado touch down, but officials at the National Weather Service have yet to determine whether one actually hit the area.

Evan Bentley, a meteorologist with the NWS’s north Indiana office, said a team will survey the area this morning to determine if the damage was actually caused by a tornado.

“We have to be very careful about saying whether something was a tornado,” he said. “We really weren’t expecting tornados in this weather environment. That’s why we didn’t issue any warnings. But we’re not ruling it out as a possibility.”

For Derrick Stapleton, watching the storm descend on his Peru neighborhood was just like the countless he’s seen play out on TV.

“Man, it’s just like on TV,” he said. “I watched it roll down to the ground, just like they say it happens.”

When the skies over Peru went dark, Stapleton said it was only minutes before “it was right on top of us.”

“At first I thought it was a train running out behind the house.”

But when he realized it was the storm barreling down instead, he decided to stop watching and head for the protection of his home’s interior.

“I said, ‘It’s gonna drop down right on Aldi’s,’” he said of the grocery store that neighbors his North Kelly Avenue home. “It seems I was right.”

The store’s parking lot was littered with debris and damaged cars, including an overturned truck pinned next to a car. One vehicle was missing a tire.

The store itself fared only slightly better — its entire facade and signage gone.

A few doors down on Main Street, it was a much different story for Arby’s. The bricks covering the restaurant’s rear exterior wall were piled in the drive-thru lane.

Employees huddled out front to fill the arriving store manager in on what happened.

Connie Garrett was working the register when she noticed a storm rolling in.

“The clouds looked funky and I was telling the drive-thru girl about it when the wind started picking up,” she said. “It just got crazy from there.”

The glass door on the north side of the building burst, covering the dining area in glass and other debris.

All employees and customers were able to ride out the storm safely, Garrett said.

As employees surveyed the damage inside the restaurant, a firefighter asked them to leave because the building was being declared condemned and the area secured. There was fear, the firefighter said, the rear wall was going to buckle and cause the building to collapse.

Store manager Mike Blair said the restaurant will likely be closed for sometime to recover from the damage.

“There was no warning,” he said. “It all happened so quickly.”

A few more doors down Main Street, the owner of the west-end B&K at Main Street and Park Road told a similar tale. Marianne Hann, of Peru, said her 15-year-old son was manning the store when the storm hit.

“We were having dinner across town when he called,” she said. “He asked if we were OK, and I said, ‘Yes, why?’ ‘Because the awning and the roof just blew off the B&K.”

Despite the horrible circumstances, Hann was able to laugh at the way he broke the news to her.

“He was just so calm,” she said.

But, she continued, everyone else at the restaurant was hysterical. They huddled in the bathroom for protection, but that was only until the roof was ripped off, leaving the rain to pour down on them.

They wanted to move to a vehicle, but Hann’s son had the wherewithal to know that was a bad idea and had everyone move to another building, she said.

Good thing, Hann said, pointing to the Jeep in the parking lot smashed by the drive-up restaurant’s large awning. Not a single piece of glass in the SUV was left intact. The restaurant itself also appeared a total loss.

“It’s just stuff,” said Hann, who’s owned the restaurant for roughly a decade. “I can’t imagine if someone had gotten hurt. It’s just stuff.”

And now the cleanup begins.

Peru officials met this morning to create an action plan for clearing out fallen trees and other debris, but Peru Mayor Jim Walker said it will likely be weeks before the city is totally spruced up.

“It’s going to be a matter of rebuilding,” he said.

Police Chief Kennedy said a slew of law enforcement agencies, fire departments and groups like the Red Cross helped maintain the destruction directly after the storm hit, and thanked the departments for their work and fast response.

“I think we’re blessed we didn’t have any substantial damage,” she said. “I thank God everyone’s safe.”

Kennedy said people reporting damage to the police department should use the call of service number 1308146.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NWS-FloodFollowDay2-15.jpg April flood brought people together to bail out community

    [Editor’s note: On April 19, 2013, a record flood hit Howard and Tipton counties. Today, we look at some of the financial aspects of the flood. In Sunday’s edition, look for stories about people who were affected, what has changed in the floodplains and how the communities are moving forward.]

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-KT041914-TwoinjuredinMiamiCocrash-CLG-pic.jpeg Two injured in Miami County crash

    PERU — Two people were injured Thursday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Ind. 19.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farmer loses seat belt fight on appeal

    Denver-area farmer Thomas Fox doesn’t like to wear his seat belt.
    But after his lengthy fight with the Indiana courts over a seat belt violation, Fox may be rethinking his stance.

    April 19, 2014

  • NSC establishes number of transfers

    Northwestern School Corp. has decided how many transfer students the district can accept next school year in compliance with the state's relatively new open enrollment law. This is the first time Northwestern has announced vacancies at each grade lev

    April 19, 2014

  • Kokomo man heading to 'Hoosier Millionaire' finale Rick Rhodes is still having a hard time believing his good fortune. On Thursday, the 53-year-old Kokomo man walked away with $13,500 after beating out five other contestants on the “Hoosier Millionaire” live road show in Fort Wayne. “I’m still in sho

    April 18, 2014

  • Dual Credit classes KACC 02 Dual credits give high school students head start on college More area students are enrolling in dual credit classes as a way to get an early start on their college degrees and prepare for the rigor of higher education while still in high school. In the past five years, the number of college credits earned by

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Email, Internet knocked out at Miami Co. Courthouse PERU -- Basic government services were put on hold for the second time in nearly two months in Miami County after a massive server failure once again knocked out Internet and email access in most departments and offices. The crash hit early last week

    April 18, 2014

  • Early voting underway in Miami Co. PERU -- Miami County officials are reminding residents that early voting is now open for the primary election. Early voting started April 8 and will end May 5, one day before Election Day. Early voting is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday at t

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson Street Commons veterans home grand opening set for May 22 Jackson Street Commons, a home for veterans near downtown Kokomo, will host a grand opening May 22. The new $3.6 million facility, located at 322 E. Jackson St., provides permanent housing to 27 previously homeless veterans, said Judy Dennis, executi

    April 18, 2014

  • YMCA nearing design phase completion Development and design of the new 73,000 square foot YMCA should be completed in the next 30 days, YMCA of Kokomo Executive Director David Dubois told the Kokomo Common Council Monday. Dubois said he hopes to begin construction on the new facility by

    April 18, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries