High winds that eyewitnesses say were caused by a tornado left large swaths of the Kokomo in shambles, flipping cars, downing power lines and turning homes and businesses into ruble.
Reports of a tornado in Howard County started coming in just after 3 p.m. near Russiaville. High winds slammed into Kokomo shortly after that, with a short bout of hail raining on the city.
The destruction prompted the city to declare a state of emergency around 5:30 p.m., banning vehicle and pedestrian traffic throughout the city until 6 a.m. Monday.
The bulk of the damage concentrated on the south side of the city around Hoffer Street, where trees and limbs littered the road. At the intersection of Hoffer Street and Home Avenue, the storm pushed the second story of a house into the middle of the road, trapping a woman beneath a car.
Nearly all of the businesses at Kokomo Mall and the surrounding area sustained heavy damage. J.C. Pennye’s roof was nearly torn off. Light poles and debris lay on top of cars at Eriks Chevrolet on U.S. 31.
Managers at Buffalo Wild Wings at the mall said about 100 people packed into their coolers as the storm rolled in.
Although minor injuries were reported around the city, preliminary reports indicate there have been no deaths.
“The damage is unbelievable, but what’s more unbelievable is that we had so few injures,” said Kokomo Police patrolman Chris White.
Police patrolled the city after the storm, looking for the injured, damaged homes and potential looters.
A Red Cross shelter was set up at the Ivy Tech Kokomo Event & Conference Center on U.S. 31. City officials pre-emptively closed Kokomo schools on Monday.
Heavy storms and tornados caused significant damage in many pockets of the state. At 4:30 p.m., more than 45,000 were without power, according to Duke Energy. Most of those were in the Lafayette and Kokomo areas.
The National Weather Service reported the storms produced winds up to 82 mph, quarter-inch hail and rain totals of nearly a half-inch in 30 minutes.