Tornado leaves homes damaged

Rooftops are covered with tarps, hundreds are without power and trees are still down on homes and power lines after a tornado passed through southern Johnson County.

About 10 homes had trees in or through them in Prince’s Lakes after the storm passed through about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, with some homes livable and others needing to be inspected before residents could return.

After the storm passed, neighbors, firefighters and police officers worked to clear streets and remove trees from homes.

The National Weather Service toured the area, and said an EF-0 tornado passed through. That type of tornado can bring wind speeds of up to 85 mph. The tornado followed a path west of Spearsville Road, near State Road 135, along County Road 450W and along County Road 750S into Prince’s Lakes, said Stephanie Sichting, Johnson County emergency management director.

Officials decided the storm was a tornado based on the damage in nearby fields, which had a rotating path, and that both new and old trees were damaged, she said.

The tornado formed after two storm systems merged, which was why there was no warning and no storm sirens sounded before it hit, Sichting said.

By Sunday evening, more than 800 South Central Indiana REMC customers were still without power, and crews were working to repair lines downed by trees and electric boxes ripped from homes. But all power may not be restored for two or more days, Sichting said. At one point, 1,500 Johnson County REMC customers were without power, but all were expected to have power back on by the end of the day Sunday, Johnson County REMC chief executive officer Chet Aubin said.

No one was injured in the storm, Sichting said.

With hot and humid temperatures, more storms expected and power still out, the American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter and cooling station at nearby Nineveh Christian Church, located at 1261 E. County Road E. 775S, Nineveh.

Residents were looking for places to move their food to try to stop it from spoiling, and were trying to find places to stay, Prince’s Lakes town council member Lori McCall said.

The township trustee had put at least one family with a baby up for the night, and another resident on oxygen. Others were seeking shelter with family, Sichting said.

Prince’s Lakes was the hardest hit in the storm, Sichting said.

McCall estimated 10 to 20 homes were damaged, with ranging amounts of damage, including trees that broke into homes and others that fell on garages.

On Sunday, police shut down roads leading into the town, except to residents and emergency workers, McCall said.

Many roads had been cleared by Sunday afternoon, but crews were still working to remove trees that had fallen on power lines, she said. One tree that had fallen was so large workers needed a crane to remove it, she said.

Emergency workers went house to house and door to door looking for damage overnight Sunday, Sichting said.

Damage was also reported outside of Prince’s Lakes, including a church near Samaria whose shelter house was severely damaged by wind, she said.

Judy Orff, who lives on Nineveh Road, was asleep when a tree crashed into the roof of her living room in the storm. She woke up, heard the strong winds and a rumbling sound and rushed to find shelter in the bathroom, she said.

“It scared me to death,” Orff said.

Six walnut trees fell on her property. Family members and neighbors, who came over to remove the tree that fell on her home, had to cut up the trees before they could get up her driveway, she said.

They removed the tree from her roof and covered her home with a tarp to try to keep out water, but she still was soaking up puddles that had formed on her floor. She has no power, and her insurance company — which received more than 100 calls early in the morning — said they may not be able to send an adjuster for more than a week, she said.

“At least I’m alive,” she said.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.