Storms Wreck Havoc On Southern Indiana; Leave Thousands Without Power

Storms Wreck Havoc On Southern Indiana; Leave Thousands Without Power



History almost repeated itself. 

Five years ago today, an EF 4 tornado ripped through Washington County and demolished the Henryville High School. 

This electric tower was destroyed north of Little York, adding to the power outage issues.
This chicken house was destroyed along Voyles Road near Pekin.
The Washington County Emergency Operation Center was opened at the county’s government building. Circles are made showing the paths of destruction.
Washington County Commissioner Preston Shell observes the list of damage in Washington County, listed on a white board.

In the early morning hours of March 1, 2017, high winds caused damage along much of the same path.

As two groups of storms approached Kentuckiana, the National Weather Service predicted on Tuesday afternoon that overnight tornadoes, hail and strong winds.

It was the 2nd round of straight line winds that passed through between 5-6:30a Wednesday that delivered the main punch.

Straight line winds of 90 mph were reported in Pekin and Borden, says National Weather Service. Or the equivalent of an EF1 tornado.

An EF2 tornado was confirmed near Mitchell.

Sites will be reviewed in Paoli and Little York today.

A few people are still without electricity and last night local schools were put on a two-hour delay and missed school on Wednesday because of the outage.

Washington County sheriff’s department lost power along with the rest of the community, and had a water pump fail on its back up generator.

As a result, all 911 calls were routed to Scott County and sent via text back to Sheriff’s Department staff.

Officials are still working this morning to get communications back to working order.

Damage was reported in the following areas in Washington County:

  • Cole Road – Trailer Overturned
  • Mt. Carmel Road – Trailer Overturned and garage on house
  • Sellar Lane – Trailer overturned
  • Prowesville  – Ridge Road
  • Hunter Road – house damaged
  • 335 – Chicken houses down near Trainer Lane
  • 335 – barn destroyed
  • Voyles road – building in road
  • Hobbs Road – sawmill down
  • Starr Road – washed out
  • SR 135 S – house destroyed

About 30 power lines down in the area. Beck’s Mill and Martinsburg Road were blocked off because of downed power lines.

Electricity was out on most of the rural providers — Duke, Jackson County REMC, Clark County REMC, Orange and Harrison County REMC and a total of more than 13,000 without power.

Thursday morning that number has shrunk to about 2000.

Pekin Town Marshall Jeff Thomas said the path of destruction was similar to the one that hit the area in 2012.

The only injuries reported were on Sellars Lane near Pekin where, three people were rescued from an overturned mobile home. There were minor cuts and scrapes.

Deputy Sheriff Brent Miller said they volunteer firefighters arrived to cut them out of the trailer.

“I could hear the people screaming and hollering inside there so I grabbed my phone and called 911 to get somebody out here as fast as they can,” neighbor Steve Pike said.

A road was washed out on Starr Road and many roofs were damaged with a few barns and garages destroyed.

A two-story poultry barn was destroyed by high winds, scattering debris in yards along Voyles Road in New Pekin.

One semi storage trailer was blown off its foundation and blown into a nearby field.

Nearby a barn that was rebuilt on Ironically, that same trailer was damaged when storms moved through New Pekin in 2012, almost five years ago to the day.

A house that was rebuilt after being destroyed in the 2012 storms was also damaged in Wednesday’s storms. Winds from those storms overturned a travel trailer in the front yard of that home.

One of the chicken houses at the Wright Bros. Tyson Chicken operation was hit by lightening and burned. Two other chicken houses flattened and part of one roof was torn off.

Those buildings were damaged back in 2012.

Most of the county spent the day without power, sending the Southern Indiana communities back into the dark ages.

Without power, there was no refrigeration. Walmart Manager Mike King said there was a potential of the store losing over $1 million in frozen and fresh food.

Without power, there were no restaurants, no gas stations could pump gas and nobody could cook food, unless it was on a gas or charcoal grill.

Earlier in the day, WSLM reported that Jackson County REMC had over 6,300 customers without power. This morning, they had less than 1000 still without power.

Duke Energy had about 2000 customers in Salem without power. That’s down to 16 on Thursday, despite most customers receiving word that they wouldn’t have power back until about Noon today.  Most power in Salem was restored before 8p Wednesday.

Harrison County REMC had 3,997 without power. They have all been restored.

Matt Deaton reported Orange County REMC had more than 1,000 without power.

A semi-trailer was blown over near Austin on I-65, causing delays. Trees were also down on I-65 near Sellersburg.

Damage was also reported in Austin, and one man said he was saved by devine intervention.

Raymond Bowling said he stood up to start getting ready for work but decided to let the snooze go off one more time.

“I laid back down and this happened just minutes afterwards. Good Lord was looking out for me for sure,” he wrote on Facebook. A tree slammed into his house and a foot-thick limb pierced the ceiling and rammed into the bathroom in front of the sink, where Bowling would have been standing.

“It was divine intervention,” he said.


The National Weather Service believes an EF-3 tornado touched down, packing winds of 135 miles per hour. Most of the damage is concentrated in Posey and Gibson Counties, especially in Fort Branch, Griffin and Poseyville.

The National Weather Service was also surveying EF-2 damage near the town of Ireland in Dubois County and confirmed an EF-2 tornado that touched down near Mitchell in Lawrence County.

NWS confirmed straight line winds did damage in the Pekin area and North of Salem.

NWS will be surveying damage in Paoli and around Little York today.

The National Weather Service is surveying the area in Scott County. Crews are mapping debris and trying to determine if straight-line winds, a tornado or other small rotations caused the damage.

“What you have to do to determine if it’s a tornado or a microburst is look to see what the damage path looks like,” said Joe Sullivan with the National Weather Service in Louisville. “Was there any convergence? Was there any rotation in it?”

County emergency management officials say only the driver of an overturned semi-truck on I-65 suffered minor injuries.

Teams are reviewing two main damage areas. One is located northwest of Austin and the other is south of Scottsburg.

Along Stricker Road, residents are without power. They are dealing with downed trees, home damage, and debris all over.

A log cabin that was unoccupied was completely leveled. A barn was ripped apart and tossed across a yard. A roof of a home off Stoney Point was peeled off.

Because of what Henryville experienced nearly five years ago, the threat of severe weather is taken seriously.

On March 2, 2012, Henryville Jr/Sr High School and Henryville Elementary School were distorted when an EF 4 tornado ripped through the town.

West Clark will be making up the missed day on Wednesday, March 22. They plan on resuming classes Thursday.

Borden received quite a bit of damage and the schools will be closed today. Seymour Community Schools are closed today as well. Scott County District 2 Schools were on a delay Thursday morning.