County residents escape fury of deadly storm system
Adams County Homeland Security director John August breathed a sigh of relief late Sunday afternoon when a powerful squall line finished passing through the county without serious damage or injury.
The line, which had been predicted for days, formed in Central Illinois about noon and immediately sent out signals that it was going to be a complex to be reckoned with when it nearly flattened the town of Washington, Ill., a community of 16,000 located just northeast of Peoria.
Shortly after, as that particular cell approached the Chicago area, Soldier Field was evacuated and a Chicago Bears football game was temporarily shut down as the dangerous storm moved through downtown Chicago.
In the meantime, local residents monitored the line all afternoon as it moved from Illinois, into Indiana and then swept across the state, dropping numerous full-fledged tornadoes as it crossed Indiana without mercy.
Some of the most major damage was in Kokomo, which was still under a state of emergency last night. In that area, a branch bank was leveled and several homes experienced severe damage. The rotating storm then slammed into Grant County where several people were injured in the Summit Village Trailer Park and in an area between Sweetser and Marion.
As the storm mystically followed the course of the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado, it slightly weakened on the south end of the line, sparing Adams County of its full fury, but parts of the northern part of the line remained in tact.
Then as it moved through Van Wert County it began to strengthen again, destroying a barn and damaging several others in northeast Van Wert County. When it charged into Putnam County (on the other side of Van Wert County) it regained its composure, forming a new tornado that leveled much of the little town of Cloverdale and caused other selective heavy damage in Putnam County.
“We are so very fortunate,” said August. “That was a very dangerous and rotating storm that passed over our county. Things could have been much worse.”
Van Wert County EMA director and weather specialist with the National Weather Service Rick McCoy agreed with August.
“Everything was in place. At one point, we were in danger of having a repeat of the 2002 Nov. 10 tornado,” said McCoy. “This was one of the worst storm days I’ve ever seen or heard of in November. It was the peak of a fall tornado season outbreak.”
McCoy said that the highest gust of wind that he recorded was 51 miles per hour. However, he said, he knows that there were higher gusts at other points around the area.
“We were very fortunate,” said Geneva resident Sherry Studebaker. “We stayed in all day and watched to see what was coming.”
“All I can say is that we were blessed with God’s grace,” said former Adams County Sheriff deputy Terry Nevil of Berne. “I had my radio on all day and I really didn’t hear of that much around the county. With all of those storms approaching, I really didn’t know what we might see before the day was over.”
Many photos of tornadoes were posted including impressive shots from Kokomo, Lebanon and Whitestown.
Weather officials at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Norman, Oklahoma had confirmed reports of 65 tornadoes as of late last night, with more damage study to occur early this week.
The prediction center estimated that at one point or another on Sunday, 53 million individuals in 10 states were in some sort of danger from the complex.
While there was only a minimum amount of power outages in the area, other counties weren’t as fortunate. There were 7,519 outages in Allen County, 450 outages in Wells County, 151 outages in Blackford County and 4,009 in the Grant County area.
“Thankfully, the National Weather Service was on top of this; by Friday, most area residents were well aware that they could be in danger on Sunday,” said McCoy. “The Weather Service did an extra job of keeping up with this as the storms approached on Sunday.”
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