State police: No serious injuries after Indiana tornadoes

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — No serious injuries were reported after multiple tornadoes touched down in central Indiana on Wednesday, according to state police.

About a dozen people were injured, none seriously, as the tornadoes moved through the area, said State Police spokesman Capt. David Bursten. Most of those injuries were in Howard County and they included one resident who was trapped in their home by one of the storms.

Bursten said those injured included a 5-month-old child who suffered a laceration in Montgomery County. He attributed the relatively small number of injuries reported by 8 p.m. to residents taking the approaching storms seriously.

"We were very, very fortunate and you have to credit the advance warnings and people heeding those warnings," he said.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said at a news conference Wednesday evening that there was "substantial damage to property — a lot of trees are down," but no major injuries were reported.

Eight funnel clouds were spotted throughout the afternoon but it's unclear how many touched down, according to Howard County authorities.

The National Weather Service reported a "confirmed large and destructive tornado" hit about 10 miles east of Kokomo, or about 40 miles north of Indianapolis. Meteorologist Dave Tucek said a tornado moved across the city Wednesday afternoon.

The city of Kokomo and Howard County declared a joint state of emergency closing all roads to people and motor vehicles, apart from emergency vehicles, until 9 p.m. Wednesday.

"It's crazy. It's a madhouse," said Mitchell Carlson, a maintenance technician at the Park Place Apartments in Kokomo. He said the complex has 16 buildings and "probably eight of them don't have a roof."

But there have not been any injuries there, he said. "So, I guess we're all blessed at the Park Place."

He estimated 20 to 30 cars had been damaged by falling tree limbs and air conditioners.

Utility companies reported more than 39,000 customers were without power as of 6:25 p.m. Duke Energy said more than 25,000 customers lost electricity in Howard County alone.

Gov. Mike Pence returned to his home state Wednesday evening. The Republican vice presidential candidate was campaigning in North Carolina when the twisters touched down across Indiana. In a tweet, Pence asked to "Please keep Hoosiers in your prayers."

Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman noted that the county and the city of Kokomo faced tornado damage in November 2013 when the region was hit by a twister that damaged homes and businesses and injured nearly three dozen people.

"Kokomo and Howard County will bounce back once again, and once again we've got to reach in deep and do the work of recovery," Wyman said

Police officers in Indianapolis spotted at least two funnel clouds close to the ground in the city just south of Interstate 70, but the department had received no reports of damage, according to Officer Jim Gillespie of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Local emergency dispatchers said only minor injuries had been reported. Television station WTHR showed images of downed trees and a toppled Starbucks in the area.

Starbucks released a statement on its website Wednesday evening, saying "all partners (employees) and customers" at the damaged coffee shop were safe.

The weather service also said Indiana State Police observed a tornado northwest of the Montgomery County town of New Ross, or about 35 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

Indiana University Kokomo canceled all events on campus Wednesday evening due to the severe weather. School officials in Avon, near Indianapolis, cited the severe weather in ordering all buses to return to the nearest school.


Associated Press writer Rick Callahan contributed to this report from Indianapolis.