Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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November 19, 2013

Tornadoes rip through Kokomo

Upward of 60 homes, 20-30 businesses destroyed

Freda Smith was trying to get back to her bedroom when the storm took part of the roof off her South Bell Street home. Standing in the hallway next to her bathroom, the 87-year-old was shaken but unharmed.

Brian Harless, his wife Jennifer and their kids took shelter in an underground bunker they’d installed a couple years ago behind their Cedar Crest house. No one was hurt.

“It was the best $3,500 we’ve ever invested,” Harless said.

And Nathan Brandon watched as what he’s pretty sure was a funnel cloud came down at the corner of Poplar and Lafountain Street. He had barely enough time to get to his basement before the roof tore off.

“You could feel it lift up the house,” Brandon said. “We heard on the radio it was 7 and a half minutes out. It didn’t take 7 and a half minutes to get here.”

Dianne Huffman was walking the area around Bell and Ricketts streets, looking for her long-haired tabby, Trixie. She’d been in a front bedroom with her husband, watching as the storm worsened, possibly too curious for her own good.

“I heard a roar, and I said, ‘This is the best storm we’ve ever been in. Then I kind of realized it was too much for us,’” she said.

By the time they opened the bedroom door, the roof was gone and the north wall had partially collapsed.

Again and again Monday, the officials in Kokomo to survey the damage had one consistent comment: It was incredibly fortunate no one was seriously hurt or killed by whatever hit Kokomo.

“I haven’t seen such devastation in a long, long time,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said. “To walk the neighborhoods is to feel even more grateful in my heart there’s no loss of life.”

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