November 17, 2013

'We got lucky': Storms result in extensive damage but no injuries

Storms result in extensive damage but no injuries

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Storms that tore through Logansport Sunday afternoon resulted in extensive damage but no injuries, a Cass County official said.

Cass County Emergency Management Agency Director Alvin Beckman said two storm cells made their way through the area heading in different directions.

The first traversed just to the southwest of Logansport, before heading west toward Clymers and then on toward the Cass County line. The second dumped rain and hurled winds over the city’s east side and continued in that direction toward New Waverly and Hoover.

The cells clocked more than 84 mph winds, Beckman continued, resulting in damaged houses and businesses, downed trees and power lines, overturned trailers and flattened barns.

Despite the extensive damage, Beckman said Sunday night, no injuries were reported.

“In a way, we got lucky,” he said.

Three radar-indicated tornadoes led to the warnings throughout the afternoon, Beckman continued, but members of the National Weather Service will be in the area today to determine whether or not any actually touched down.

Ola Titus, who lives on the 400 block of West Clinton Street, said she is almost positive it was a tornado that tore through a small part of her neighborhood as she watched a Logansport Street Department bulldozer clear mounds of debris from the road in front of her home.

Titus recalled opening her front door as the storm worsened Sunday afternoon.

“That’s a tornado,” she recalled thinking. “I hear it.”

She closed the door and told her husband to head for the basement.

“I heard a big boom, like an explosion, then something hit me in the back,” she said.

What hit her was the front door she had just closed, while the explosion was the sound of bursting windows.

The only injury Titus came out of it with was a long but minor cut on her back, she said. A calmness quickly replaced the recent havoc and she walked back to the entryway.

“I came back and looked and their roof was in our front yard,” she said of the house across the street.

Part of it was even in the truck in her driveway, piling up in the box and crashing through the back window into the cab, filling up the front seats.

Titus said her neighbors escaped uninjured and had left to stay with family.

“Everybody was lucky, nobody was hurt,” she said. “That’s the most to be thankful for. It could have been a lot worse.”

There was also damage to Cass Plaza on East Market Street.

Logansport Fire Chief Mark Strong said the department responded to gas leaks in the strip mall. After shutting off the gas and evacuating the businesses, he went on to discover a large part of the roof on the strip mall had ripped off during the storm, leaving puddles of water and crumbling ceiling tiles on the floors of several businesses.

One of the front windows at Cato had blown through, leaving shards of glass across the carpet and clothing displays.

“They’ve got glass clear back to the back of the store,” Strong said.

Part of the roof at the McHale Performing Arts Center at Logansport High School had also peeled back during the storm’s strong winds.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, Duke Energy’s website reported 1,776 customers were without power in Cass County.

The Associated Press reported Sunday afternoon that 12 counties across the state reported damage from storms, including the cities of Lebanon, Washington, Kokomo and Lafayette. Part of a school in Tippecanoe County had been torn away, injuring one teacher. There was flooding in Indianapolis and trucks blown over in Fountain County.

Beckman said other areas got hit harder.

“We do have a lot of damage and some of it is significant to houses but probably not as great as what they got in some other counties,” Beckman said, adding that he will be out today and the sunlight will provide for a more accurate assessment.

“For the most part, we survived this one,” he said. “There were no reports of any injuries and that’s the key thing.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or Follow him: @PharosMAK