Moments before an EF1 tornado ripped the roof off of a Center Grove area animal hospital, an employee was watching the chaos unfold from a second story window.

As the wind picked up, Douglas Skinner looked out the window and saw rain and debris flying almost horizontal. Then, he heard the sound of a freight train growing louder, as if it were moving on top of Academy Animal Hospital.

Skinner moved back from the window but couldn’t pull his eyes away from what he was certain he would see. As the rumbling noise became more intense, he saw the funnel tearing its path. He ran down the stairs, telling his co-workers to get to the basement, Skinner said.

“I saw the funnel. I’d experienced a tornado before, and I heard that same sound of velocity and rumbling like a train,” Skinner said. “There’s a magnetism to it. You kind of want to see it, but you need to get away.”

Story continues below gallery

Before Skinner could get his co-workers into the basement, it was calm, Skinner said. Across the street a roof was lying in a parking lot. When he went outside to look at the back of the building, he realized the animal hospital’s roof was gone.

The animal hospital, on State Road 135, just north of Smith Valley Road, was one of about a dozen homes and businesses damaged in last week’s tornado.

The tornado’s path hit nearby houses west of the animal hospital along Smith Valley Road. Darrell Francis’ garage was lifted off the ground and nearly flattened. A tree smashed into another home, making it unlivable. Nearby, Judi Negri’s electrical box was ripped off the side of her house, leaving her without electricity until Monday morning.

As of Monday, the county did not yet have an estimate of total damage from the tornado. Many property owners, like Francis, still needed to meet with an insurance adjuster to determine the damage.

An estimate of damage to the animal hospital is not yet known, as crews work to replace the ceiling and insulation and build a new roof, said Dr. David Morgan, owner of Academy Animal Hospital.

After the storm, a tarp was put up over the area where the roof was ripped off, Morgan said. Crews were at the building on Monday, and the hospital should have a new roof by the end of the week, weather permitting, Morgan said.

After the tornado hit around 4 p.m. Wednesday, the hospital remained open until 7 p.m., Skinner said. The hospital has operated as usual since the storm, he said.

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.