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.”