Five killed in heavy storms sweeping through Midwest
MILLBURY, Ohio (AP) -- Tornadoes and thunderstorms swept through the Midwest overnight, destroying dozens of homes and upending school buses and police cars in one miles-long trail of destruction in Ohio, and ripping off siding on a nuclear plant...
MILLBURY, Ohio (AP) -- Tornadoes and thunderstorms swept through the Midwest overnight, destroying dozens of homes and upending school buses and police cars in one miles-long trail of destruction in Ohio, and ripping off siding on a nuclear plant in Michigan. At least five people died in Ohio, including a child, authorities said.
Rescue officials in northwest Ohio were still searching through homes Sunday and couldn't say whether anyone else was missing, Lake Township Fire Chief Todd Walters said. Police Chief Mark Hummer flew over the damaged area and said at least 50 homes were destroyed and another 50 severely damaged, as well as six commercial buildings. He estimated a 7-mile path of destruction about 100 yards wide. The storm that hit around 11 p.m. Saturday fell over an area of farm fields and light industry, narrowly missing the heavily populated suburbs on the southern edge of Toledo.
"It's a war zone," Hummer said. "It's pretty disheartening."
Hummer said that among those killed were a person outside the police department and a motorist. He said a young child and two other victims were from nearby Millbury, a bedroom community of roughly 1,200 about 10 miles southeast of Toledo. The National Weather Service had confirmed Sunday afternoon that a Toledo-area tornado was part of the storm, said Meteorologist Marty Mullen of the service's Cleveland office.
A township police and emergency medical services building looked to be a total loss. The storm ripped off most of the building's back half, tossing a car into where the building once stood, now a mishmash of 2-by-4 framing and pink insulation strewn about. At least four of the township's police vehicles were destroyed. The lawn surrounding the station was littered with tree limbs and branches, and a portion of the metal roof wrapped around one of trees.
Hummer was talking to a police dispatcher by phone when the storm hit.
"She started saying, 'The building is shaking,'and then another dispatcher came on and said the roof just blew off," he said.
The storm knocked out emergency services for a short time, and all the emergency dispatchers and 911 operators had to be moved to a nearby town.
"When the people who are supposed to help you are victims of the storm, it does take you a minute to catch your breath," Hummer said.
Damage stretched from Illinois toward Pennsylvania and north into Michigan, and more wind, scattered rain and cooler temperatures were expected Sunday.
In southeastern Michigan, severe storms and high winds ripped siding off a building at the Fermi 2 nuclear plant, causing it to shut down automatically, said Dan Smith, the public information officer for Monroe County. Investigators were inspecting the nuclear plant on the shore of Lake Erie on Sunday morning, and the plant was expected to go back into operation, Smith said.
About 35,000 people were without power but it wasn't clear whether that was directly related to the nuclear plant's shutdown or because of damage to power lines in the area, he said.
Eleven people with minor injuries were taken to hospitals from Dundee, Mich., where the weather service was looking into reports of a tornado touching down.
More than a dozen people were injured in Dwight, Ill., where about 40 mobile homes and 10 other homes were destroyed, Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said, and multiple tornadoes were reported in the state.
In Elmwood, Ill., about 30 miles west of Peoria, the roof collapsed on a movie theater where 150 to 200 people had been evacuated to the basement, state Trooper Dustin Pierce said. No one was injured.
The storms left a trail of damaged homes in northern Indiana and a tornado sighting was reported, but no one was injured.
In northwest Ohio, a basement washer and dryer were all that held up one teetering Millbury home that was pushed 5 feet off its foundation. Truck driver Carl Gooden, 54, said his family also lost two garages and five vehicles, including his son's pickup truck that had a tree limb jammed into the driver seat.
Gooden said he, his wife and his 34-year-old son were sitting on the porch when they heard a roar and ran for the bathroom.
Wind tore off most of the home's roof and ripped open the north side of house, exposing a bedroom and a closet where sweat shirts and dresses were still on their hangers. In the front yard, a sliver of aluminum siding from a neighbor's barn was wrapped around a teetering telephone pole.
The front yard was littered with decades of memories: a Loretta Lynn album, a porcelain lamp and a green golf bag were among the recognizable items.
"My heart sinks," Gooden said. "I worked a lifetime for all this."
He said he'd like to go in the home to retrieve items such as his wife's jewelry or his NASCAR collectibles, but that it was too unsteady.
"It's not worth dying for," he said.
Lake High School was also among the hardest hit buildings. Dozens of windows were broken at the school, and the roof and a back wall were ripped off a gymnasium, hours before the graduation ceremony was scheduled to take place there.
Two buses were tossed on their sides and another was thrown about 50 yards, landing on its top near the high school's football field, its right turn signal still blinking more than 10 hours later.
"I don't think many people care we aren't graduating today," student Tess Steedman said Sunday morning as she held onto her boyfriend's arm.
She said it's easy to forget the disappointment when hearing about other damage.
"You hear about friends who have lost their houses," she said.
Courtnee Cowell, who will be a sophomore in the fall, plays basketball and was most upset to see the gymnasium knocked apart.
"The school's been here forever," she said. "It's touched a lot of generations."
Also a member of the choir, Cowell said she woke up Sunday to find sheets of choir music from the school in her driveway, about four miles away.
Carol Smith, of Toledo, whose grandson will be a senior in the fall, called the destruction "terrible."
"But praise the Lord, it could've been worse," she said. "At least there was no one inside."