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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Midwest Ravaged by Severe Weather, Spawning Tornadoes

Severe storms wreaked havoc across three Midwestern states on Thursday, unleashing a tornado in northwestern Ohio and causing extensive damage to numerous homes in eastern Indiana.

Indiana bore the brunt of the storm’s fury, with Winchester and Selma emerging as the hardest-hit areas. Local authorities suspected a tornado had struck a trailer park in Winchester, with reports indicating significant damage to property. Reverend Andy Price of Cornerstone Baptist Church in downtown Winchester lamented the devastation wrought upon his church, noting the loss of the roof and maintenance shed. While awaiting daylight to assess the full extent of the destruction, Pastor Price acknowledged that little remained of the once-standing church building.

Further west in Indiana, Selma suffered substantial damage, with nearly half of all structures affected, according to the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency. Despite the widespread destruction, only minor injuries were reported.

In southeastern Indiana’s Jefferson County, officials reported severe damage caused by the storms. Sergeant Stephen Wheeles of the Indiana State Police confirmed multiple reports of tornado touchdowns across the county, resulting in damaged homes, fallen trees, and downed power lines. Photos shared on social media depicted large hailstones that accompanied the storm.

Matt True, director of the emergency management agency in Jefferson County, recounted the unexpected emergence of the tornado, noting the absence of any prior warnings. He described how the storm damaged 29 homes and caused minor injuries to two individuals. As residents braced for another storm with a tornado warning, True highlighted the challenges posed by the rapid succession of severe weather events.

The tornado’s path extended across the Ohio River into Kentucky’s Trimble County, where emergency management director Andrew Stark reported extensive damage to 20 to 30 homes. Stark detailed the destruction of roofs and walls, along with widespread power outages affecting a significant portion of households.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear confirmed the tornado’s impact on Gallatin County and possibly Carroll County as well. Despite the destruction, there were no fatalities reported, with only minor injuries sustained.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of customers in Indiana and Kentucky found themselves without power as a result of the storm’s aftermath, according to poweroutage.us.

Earlier in the evening, the National Weather Service in Cleveland issued warnings of a “very dangerous half-mile-wide tornado” causing damage to homes and structures. Subsequent updates indicated monitoring of two tornadic rotations, one in Crawford County and the other in Ashland County, raising concerns for residents in those areas.

Ohio officials also grappled with significant damage to a lakeside mobile home community near Lakeview, Ohio, as they assessed the aftermath of the storm.

The widespread destruction caused by Thursday’s severe storms underscores the unpredictable and devastating impact of extreme weather events on communities across the Midwestern United States. As affected areas begin the process of recovery and rebuilding, emergency responders and local authorities remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of residents amidst the ongoing threat of severe weather.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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