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Tornadoes kill at least 3 in Ohio as storms leave trail of destruction in Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas

3 killed, dozens hurt as tornadoes hit Midwest
At least 3 killed, dozens injured as tornadoes hit Midwest 02:02

A tornado killed at least three people in western Ohio on Thursday night, authorities said, part of a storm system that also unleashed apparent twisters in parts of IndianaKentucky and Arkansas that injured dozens and left tens of thousands of homes and businesses without power.

Indian Lake, Ohio, hit by tornado

The Indian Lake area in Ohio's Logan County, northwest of Columbus, appeared to be the worst hit. At least three people were confirmed dead, according to the Logan County Sheriff's Office. 

Logan County spokesperson Sheri Timmers told CBS News there were multiple injuries, adding that an RV park was among the areas impacted. Multiple buildings in the Indian Lake area were damaged, Timmers said.

Mary Rutan Health Center, located in the Logan County city of Bellefontaine, confirmed to CBS News that as of Friday afternoon it was treating 26 patients injured in the tornadoes.

The aftermath of a severe storm is seen in Lakeview, Ohio, March 15, 2024.
The aftermath of a severe storm is seen in Lakeview, Ohio, March 15, 2024. AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel

Search crews went into neighborhoods that had been blocked by gas leaks and fallen trees overnight and made a second pass in areas that were checked in the darkness right after the storm, Sheriff Randy Dodds said.

"It's going to take a long time," he said, adding he wasn't aware of anybody unaccounted for.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF2 tornado had struck near Orchard Island in Logan County. The Enhanced Fujita scale ranks tornadoes from EF0 to EF5, based on estimated wind speeds and damage.

Chief Deputy Joe Kopus of the sheriff's office said there was heavy damage in Lakeview, Midway, Orchard Island and Russells Point.

Apocalyptic scenes as severe storms hit Ohio 00:54

"It is just devastating. I mean, you see it happen to other people, you finally get to comprehend what this means," Carla Morris, owner of CJ's Lakeside Tavern in Lakeview, told CBS News.

Lakeview resident Robin Holmes told CBS News he somehow survived the storm in his living room.

"We are very lucky, because all around, it just tore everything up," Holmes said. 

Photos posted to social media also showed the extensive residential damage in Indian Lake.  

Amber Fagan, president and chief executive of the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said the village of Lakeview was "completely demolished," adding that homes, campgrounds and a laundromat were hit hard. "There's places burning," she said. "There's power lines through people's windows."

A shelter was opened for anyone displaced. Many of the homes in the area are used as summer cottages by people who come for fishing and boating.

"This is going to be a long-term recovery for our community," Logan County Commissioner Joe Antram said in a news briefing Friday.

In Ohio's Huron County, emergency management officials posted on Facebook that there was a "confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado" near Plymouth, some 75 miles northeast of Indian Lake. It damaged homes and toppled trees, officials said, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

Massive funnel cloud spotted in Ohio ahead of night of violent weather 00:22

Indiana hit hard

At about the same time the tornado hit the Indian Lake area, another one tore through Winchester, Indiana, some 75 miles to the west. 

Winchester Mayor Bob McCoy said some 130 homes were damaged or destroyed in the area. The tornado damaged a Walmart store and a Taco Bell in Winchester, Randolph County Sheriff Art Moystner told CBS Indianapolis affiliate WTTV. Travel throughout the county was restricted to emergency management workers only, he said.  

A National Weather Service survey team later confirmed the tornado with a preliminary damage rating of EF3.

"There have been many, many significant injuries, but I don't know the number. I don't know where they are. I don't know what those injuries are," Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter told reporters just before midnight Thursday. "There's a lot that we don't know yet."

State police said earlier in the night that they were investigating reports of deaths but Carter said at the news conference there were "no known fatalities."

In a social media post early Friday morning, the Randolph County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency reported that there were at least 38 people injured in the tornado that struck Winchester, 12 of whom required hospitalization. The agency also said there had been no confirmed fatalities.  

State officials called on Indiana Task Force One to help with search efforts in Winchester, a town of 4,700 people nearly 70 miles northeast of Indianapolis, according to a post by the rescue team on social media. The team is one of 28 Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored Urban Search and Rescue teams in the United States.

"I'm shaken; it's overwhelming," McCoy said. "I heard what sounded like a train and then I started hearing sirens."

He and his wife were hunkered in a closet during the twister, which hit at about 8 p.m. "I've never heard that sound before; I don't want to hear it again," McCoy said.

A large tornado is see tearing through Winchester, Indiana on Mach 14, 2024. @LoudestMy

Winchester resident Brooks Burelison said he took shelter with his mother and sister just in time.

"By the time I got home, 20 seconds from me being in the garage, I jumped in the cellar, and then all of a sudden it was over us, and then eight seconds later, it was gone," Burelison told CBS News.  

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb posted on Facebook Thursday night, "Severe weather has impacted Hoosiers all across the state, and we have emergency response personnel in the impacted areas."

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security posted on Facebook that their staff were on scene in Randolph County, home to Winchester, working with locals, and that the State Emergency Operations Center was activated with an enhanced staffing level to respond to the storm.

A Facebook post on the Winchester Community High School page said all the schools in the district would be closed Friday. Another post said the high school had electricity and was open for emergency use for people who "need somewhere warm and dry."

To the west of Winchester in Delaware County, Indiana, emergency management officials said initial assessments suggested that up to half the structures in the small town of Selma were damaged by a possible tornado.

"We are relieved to report that only minor injuries have been reported thus far, with one individual transported to the hospital for treatment," the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency said in a news release. About 750 people live in Selma.

Earlier, storms damaged homes and trailers in the Ohio River communities of Hanover and Lamb in Indiana.

Jefferson County, Indiana Sheriff Ben Flint said storms destroyed three or four single-family homes and four or five other structures and demolished several uninhabited campers along the river.

"We were fortunate that no one was injured," Flint told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Multiple suspected tornadoes leave trail of damage across Midwest
A home was destroyed by a suspected tornado in Jefferson County, Indiana, on March 14, 2024.  Jefferson County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

Gayle Liter and his wife told CBS affiliate WLKY-TV that their Hanover home, which they had just moved into about three months ago, was destroyed by the tornado. "Total destruction, the inside, everything," Liter said. 

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles of the Indiana State Police said earlier that another suspected tornado struck Jefferson County, damaging several homes and downing trees and power lines.

He posted photos on social media showing one home with its roof torn off and another missing roof shingles as well as an image of a baseball-sized hailstone.

Kentucky, Arkansas also impacted

In Milton, Kentucky, two people were injured when their car was hit by debris from a tornado that damaged as many as 100 homes and businesses, said Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark.

"We have a whole bunch of damage," Stark told the Courier Journal of Louisville.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued a statement saying a tornado touched down along the Indiana state border in Gallatin and Trimble counties and there were reports of a couple of minor injuries.

"It does appear that there is some really significant damage, especially to the town of Milton in Trimble County," Beshear said. "We think there are over 100 structures that are potentially damaged."

The state's emergency operations center was activated to coordinate storm response, Beshear said.

In Arkansas, a probable tornado struck the retirement community of Hot Springs Village, about 40 miles southwest of Little Rock, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Erik Green.

Baseball-sized hail also fell and some buildings were destroyed, but there were no reports of fatalities or injuries, Green said.

Large pieces of hail also was reported in parts of the St. Louis area Thursday afternoon.

There were unconfirmed reports of tornadoes in Jefferson County, Missouri, and Monroe County, Illinois, but no immediate reports of damage.

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