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Tornado rakes IN, OH


"The tornado has made multiple touchdowns from the southwest, all the way northeast."

—Terry Logue

A tornado that repeatedly touched down across Indiana and Ohio damaged or destroyed at least 50 homes Friday.

Severe storms swept through the area, causing injuries and knocking down trees and power lines.

Indiana was hardest hit, and homes in Johnson, Posey and Knox counties were destroyed or suffered serious damage, according to the Indiana State Emergency Management Agency.

American Red Cross volunteer damage assessment teams were analyzing the region to see what help people needed Saturday.

Emergency-service personnel said that trees smashed into cars, homes and buildings collapsed, and several mobile homes were demolished. The storms had emergency-response personnel scrambling to respond all Friday afternoon.

"There is a tornado touching down, maybe several," said William McGee -- communication supervisor for the Indianapolis Police Dept. -- late Friday afternoon. "It's still chaotic, still moving and still touching down. I'm sure there are some injured somewhere at this point."

Terry Logue confirmed McGee's assumption. He works with Emergency Medical Ambulance, a private ambulance company. He called in all of the crews he had to spare to help provide medical care for Indianapolis residents.

"The tornado has made multiple touchdowns from the southwest, all the way northeast," Logue said. "Our crews are still on the scene."

Several roads were closed late Friday afternoon, and several areas surrounding Indianapolis remained under severe thunderstorm and tornado watches. Early Friday evening, the storms were headed to Kentucky and Ohio.

About 30,000 Indianapolis-area residents were without power early Friday evening.

"We have a lot of tree damage," said Crystal Livers-Powers, spokesperson for Indianapolis Power and Light. "The damage to our system is pretty intense, we have destruction of power lines and poles."

As the storm passed by, Indianapolis First Congregational United Church of Christ secretary Carolyn Meagher sought safety in the church basement.

"It looked like it was going over our area," she said. "I heard the alarm, and I saw hail, so I went into the basement."

Meagher said the area her church is located in suffered no damage.

Another United Church of Christ pastor said alarm sirens had been going off all day.

"A couple miles in either direction from where our church is located there are collapsed buildings," she said. "But so far I haven't heard any reports of injuries."

At the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis, a handful of church personnel gathered in the interior hall of the rectory to wait out the storm.

"It's a pretty sturdy old building," said the church secretary. "We're all okay."

Donald Scott, associate executive minister for the American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky, said he hasn't yet heard of any damage from church members.

"If we discover that our churches and people have been affected, then our regional office will be in touch with our counterparts and money will be immediately put into the pipeline for distribution there," Scott said.

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