March 3, 2012 by staff
Indiana Tornado, The region’s deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in nearly 40 years carved a path of destruction through Indiana and Kentucky on Friday, killing at least 24 people and leveling several small towns.
The National Weather Service estimated 10 or more tornadoes touched down in the two states, spreading chaos through the region. Death tolls climbed throughout the day and well into the evening as crews searched for victims.
Kentucky declared a state of emergency, and Indiana officials said they were discussing doing so late Friday night.
Robert Szappanos, a meteorologist with the weather service in Louisville, said the “super outbreak” resembled the historic 1974 tornadoes, when 63 people died in an area stretching from Southern Indiana to Southern Kentucky.
The weather service will send out teams today to determine exactly how many tornadoes struck the region and their intensity, he said.
But the destruction they left in their wake will take much longer to gauge.
In the town of Chelsea in Jefferson County, Ind., first responders found a 4-year-old boy and his great-grandparents lying on the ground 50 feet from where the elderly couple’s home was blown off its foundation and thrown more than 100 feet.
The child’s young father could be seen crying as he bent over next to a firefighter.
All three died of multiple blunt-force injuries, according to David Bell, the county’s Emergency Management director.
A man who lived nearby on Jackson Road also was killed when the storm slammed into his home, Jefferson County Sheriff John Wallace said.
The victims’ names were being withheld pending notification of relatives, Wallace said.
“All of this happened in less than 30 seconds,” said Cory Thomas, a Hanover volunteer firefighter, who was sitting in a firetruck watching and videotaping the funnel cloud as it moved from the north to the intersection of Ind. 62 and Jackson Road.
Michelle and Daniel Cartwright, whose parents lived at the intersection, rushed from their home to his parents’ house to help his grandmother during the storm. They whisked her to the basement and heard a tremendous roar as the storm bore down on the house, Michelle Cartwright said.
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