A fast-moving hailstorm broke windows, punched holes in siding and left cars riddled with dents across Johnson County.
The storm tore through the Trafalgar area and swept northeast through Johnson County on Wednesday evening, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Randy Werden said. Hail that ranged from grape-sized to nearly baseball-sized socked Trafalgar, Prince’s Lakes, Needham, Franklin, Whiteland and the Rocklane Road area east of Greenwood, causing major and extensive damage.
Residents braced for a second storm Thursday evening, when central Indiana was under a tornado watch. They boarded up windows and put tarp over holes in their roofs and prayed that the next storm wouldn’t bring even more damage to fix.
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High winds flattened a barn in Needham Township. Trees got ripped apart. Lightning fried a church’s electrical equipment in Trafalgar, and power lines were knocked down on Graham Road near Whiteland and along State Road 135 in southern Johnson County.
Traffic was blocked on State Road 135 near Trafalgar for nearly all night as crews worked to remove a huge, high-voltage electric distribution line. Dozens of residents went a few hours without power, Johnson County REMC chief executive Chet Aubin said.
Coaches had to rush children off the fields outside Indian Creek schools as hail rained down early Wednesday evening, and parents returned to find their cars in the parking lot damaged by hail.
Houses and churches across the county suffered broken windows, dented and perforated siding and torn-up roofs. For example, hailstones pierced windows and punctured gutters at Rocklane Christian Church, east of Greenwood.
On Thursday, homeowners spent hours patching up the damage, talking to their insurance agents and fielding offers from contractors who went door-to-door dropping off fliers.
Hail did extensive damage to cars, which residents said were dented with enough divets to resemble waffles or golf balls. Hundreds of cars got pummeled at the Fletcher Chrysler dealership in Franklin.
Houses in Franklin and Whiteland also got hit with significant hail damage. Franklin resident Shelley Bramlett said that most of the Cumberland Trails neighborhood was slammed in a five-minute barrage of hail.
“What’s really scary is how it blasted so many homes and caused so much damage in such a short period of time,” she said. “It was all over in five minutes.”
She shepherded her family to a bathroom, where they huddled together until the hammering let up. One of her children, who turns 2 in June, was frantic and later suffered an upset stomach.
“It was loud,” she said. “It sounded like hundreds of hammers hitting against the house. I thought all the windows would shatter. It was pretty terrifying.”
Bramlett said she had never seen a storm so bad or hail so big. She had always thought descriptions of golf ball-sized hail were a bit of a stretch, at least until Wednesday night.
She collected pieces of hail from her yard after the storm and found that they ranged from marble-sized to golf ball-sized to nearly and baseball-sized.
“When we looked out, the hail looked like big bouncy balls, just bouncing around in the lawn,” she said.
The hail left her house looking like it had been peppered with shot, Bramlett said. A tarp has been duct-taped to the roof to cover exposed installation. She feared a second storm Thursday would bring rain and cause extensive water damage to her home.
All four of their vehicles suffered hail damage, including a cracked windshield and a broken outside mirror. She said it’s created a lot of hassle at a busy time when she should be more concerned with her children’s upcoming prom and graduation.
Franklin resident Casey DeArmitt, who lives in Franklin’s Oakleaf Manor neighborhood, also has been spending a lot of time on the phone with her insurance agent.
She was home Wednesday when the storm roared through. She heard hail pummeling her home and feared it would smash through her French doors.
“It was so surreal,” she said. “I’ve never seen hail that big.”
No windows were broken, but she noticed after the storm that a neighbor’s siding was riddled with holes. She later discovered all of the homes in the neighborhood, including hers, suffered similar damage.
“On the south side of the house, there are holes every three or four inches,” she said. “It’s going to have be replaced with all new siding.”
Her roof also suffered heavy damage. She’s just glad that the roof isn’t leaking, and she didn’t have to pick up shards of glass from broken windows. She said she expects that the insurance company will replace the roof and siding.
Most of the siding is gone from houses along Rocklane Road in unincorporated Clark Township just east of Greenwood, property owner Kate Taylor said. She and her husband own three rental homes on that street. Siding, trees and windows are just gone.
“There’s more holes than siding left on those houses,” Taylor said. “All the windows were blown out of one of our houses.”