Thunderstorms pound Midwest, spawning tornadoes

Wednesday, June 4th 2008, 10:53 am
By: News 9


Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW, Ind. (AP) -- Thunderstorms streamed across the Ohio Valley on Wednesday after a night of tornadoes that destroyed numerous homes and damaged a National Guard camp in central Indiana.

No deaths were reported.

The National Weather Service posted flash flood warnings Wednesday for parts of Indiana, saying as much as 5 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours with an additional 1.5 inches possible. It issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

One tornado hit the small Indiana community of Moscow in Rush County, reducing numerous homes to rubble and injuring at least five people, one critically, state police Sgt. John Bowling said.

That twister late Tuesday also destroyed a 19th-century covered bridge and ripped the top floor and roof from an old brick schoolhouse.

"All kinds of trees are down, into houses," Bowling said of the town about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis. "I can see three houses right here in front of me that are just totally destroyed."

Authorities closed roads into Moscow on Wednesday as heavy rain and lightning continued. Many nearby roads and fields were flooded.

Roads around Moscow were strewn with downed power lines, fallen tree limbs and other debris when Jolene Icenogle drove home from work late Tuesday.

"I was just lucky my home wasn't hit," she said. "There's insulation in our yard from somewhere. We don't know where but it's not ours."

Another tornado damaged several buildings at the Indiana National Guard's Camp Atterbury, about 25 miles south of Indianapolis. Two soldiers suffered minor injuries as they sought shelter, camp spokesman Capt. Greg Lundeberg said.

More than 2,000 troops are at the camp, including a Marine unit training for deployment to Iraq, and the tornado skipped over buildings where they were sleeping, Lundeberg said.

Flash flooding was reported in parts of Indiana on Wednesday and firefighters in Randolph County had been out since 4 a.m. rescuing people, Sheriff Jay Harris said. Most roads in the county's southern half were closed except for emergency vehicles

"We've had to pluck probably 10 to ... 20 people out of vehicles, out of their houses," Harris said. "We've had to rescue some livestock this morning."

In Ohio, weather service meteorologist Andy Hatzos in Wilmington said countless funnel clouds had been reported by early Wednesday, but no tornadoes had been confirmed.

Rain fell at a rate of 2 inches an hour in parts of Ohio, the weather service said. Flooding was reported in several communities around Dayton.

About 24,000 Duke Energy customers in the Cincinnati area lost power but most were back on line Wednesday, the company said. WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio, was knocked off the air Tuesday night and couldn't broadcast its night newscast, news director Steve Diorio said.

The weather service said central Illinois got more than 3 inches of rain Tuesday, notably around Springfield and Decatur, causing minor flooding in the basements of some University of Illinois buildings.

Farther west, flames and smoke were visible for miles Wednesday in Kansas City, Kan., as firefighters allowed a huge fire to burn itself out in a gasoline storage tank.

Fire department Capt. Stan Castaneda said the fire started when the Magellan Pipeline terminal tank was hit by lightning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. No injuries were reported. Magellan spokesman Jon Jacobs said the tank contained about 1.2 million gallons of unleaded gasoline, about half its capacity.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)