Fri March 2, 2012
Widespread Tornadoes Across Tennessee And Ohio Valleys Leave Three Dead
Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:59 am
Yet another line of extreme weather is cutting across a wide swath of the country today. On Wednesday, tornadoes pounded some of the same areas and caused 13 deaths.
The AP reports that 14 people have been killed in southern Indiana. (Keep in mind that in these situations, this number is bound to change.)
RTV 6 in Indianapolis reports that authorities are still trying to get a handle on the damage.
"Multiple people are unaccounted for in Henryville after a tornado ripped through a school in the southern Indiana town just off Interstate 65, ISP Capt. Dave Bursten said.
"Authorities reported widespread damage in several communities, and a sheriff's official said the town of Marysville, just east of Henryville, is 'completely gone.'"
What's clear is that today will end with a very long night for those in areas under tornado warnings. The National Weather Service is expecting more severe weather through a large area that extends from Indiana and Ohio through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.
You can see all current tornado warnings here. We'll update this blog with the latest. So make sure to hit your refresh button.
Update at 11:37 p.m. ET. Storm In Ga.; Calling The National Guard:
Haralson County Fire Chief Brian Walker told The AP that crews were trying to free a person in the home who had some injuries but was stable. No other major injuries were reported.
NPR Southern Bureau Chief Russell Lewis reports on Twitter Kentucky's governor has sent 275 National Guard troops to help in six counties with storm-related damages.
Update at 10:37 p.m. ET. Police Confirm More Deaths In Indiana:
The AP reports 14 people have been killed in the Indiana storms, with four more in Washington County. More than 85 tornadoes have been reported, according to The Weather Channel.
Update at 9:50 p.m. ET. Death Toll Rises; Warnings Continue:
Friday's tornadoes have killed at least 15 people in three states, reports the AP. But bear in mind that emergency personnel are still working to help survivors and recover victims, so it's very hard to get reliable information about the number of fatalities. Reports are emerging that five people died in Kentucky, and one in Ohio.
A fourth death has been confirmed in Jefferson County, Ind., raising the number of reported deaths in Indiana to nine, the AP reports.
Citing Indiana State Police Master Trooper Rick Stockdale, the AP also provided more details about four people killed in the Chelsea area of Jefferson County. "Stockdale says a man, woman and their 4-year-old grandchild died in one house, and another man was killed in his home a short distance away," the AP reports.
And new tornado warnings have been issued in parts of Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
Update at 8 p.m. ET. Eight Dead:
The AP has increased its death count to eight, after it received confirmation of two more deaths in Ripley County.
The AP reports:
"State Joint Information Center spokesman Jet Quillen says three people died in Jefferson County and three more were killed in Scott County as storms battered the state Friday.
"Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze Jr. says two people also were killed in Ripley County to the northeast. He says two other people there have life-threatening injuries."
Update at 7:54 p.m. ET. At Least 50 Tornadoes Reported:
The Weather Channel reports that this storm system has spawned at least 50 tornadoes have been reported today.
In Kentucky and souther Indiana alone, the Louisville Courier Journal reports that there could have been 10 or more touchdowns.
Update at 7:34 p.m. ET. Death Toll Rises:
The AP is now reporting that at least six people are dead in southern Indiana. Three died in Jefferson County and three in Scott County.
Update at 7:31 p.m. ET. Threat To Last Until Late Friday:
The AP reports a bit on what to expect for the rest of the night:
"The threat of tornadoes was expected to last until late Friday for parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio. Forecasters at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma said the massive band of storms was putting 10 million people in several states at high risk of severe weather.
"'Maybe five times a year we issue what is kind of the highest risk level for us at the Storm Prediction Center,' forecaster Corey Mead said. 'This is one of those days.'"
Update at 7:12 p.m. ET. Aerial Footage:
WTHR has now added video shot from a helicopter in Henryville. It shows large trees toppled and some large buildings completely flattened. You'll hear the pilot say, "that's the school right there," as they pan across a building with the roof blown off and what's left of the beams twisted and mangled.
Here's the video:
Update at 6:30 p.m. ET. 'A Disaster Zone':
Erica Peterson, of NPR member station WFPL, reports that there are still some buildings standing in Marysville but the two main residential sections seem to have been flattened.
Erica told our Newscast unit that trees and power lines are down and all that's left of some homes are cinder block foundations.
Erica said she talked to one resident, Marvin Tucker, 78, who said he was inside his home when the tornado swept through. It tore half of the roof and turned over his dresser. Luckily that's where it ended and now Tucker is leaving town for the evening.
Update at 5:55 p.m. ET. A Bit More On Henryville High:
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that a tornado likely ripped through the high school. But they have some preliminary good news:
"Jerry Goodin, a spokesman for Indiana State Police, said that to his knowledge all of the students have been accounted for and none were injured.
"He said many other injuries have been reported around town.
"He said students were being taken to the town's community center so that their families could pick them up.
Update at 5:41 p.m. ET. Two Towns In Indiana:
Two of the hardest hit towns appear to be Henryville and Marysville in Indiana, which are about nine miles apart.
"National Weather Service coordinator Bill Whitlock there's "extreme damage" in the area of Henryville, a town of about 3,000 people just north of the Kentucky border. Destruction can be seen for miles.
"Clark County Sheriff's Department Maj. Chuck Adams says the nearby town of Marysville is "completely gone."
"The Department of Homeland Security confirmed to Eyewitness News that Henryville High School was struck by a tornado. A school district spokeswoman says heavy damage has been reported at the high school."
WTHR also tweeted an aerial photograph of Henryville High School, which shows a heavily damaged building: The roof is collapsed and the windows are blown out and part of what appears to be a second story looks destroyed.
Update at 5:23 p.m. ET. The Scene In Indiana:
From our earlier blog, we'll add this important alert from the AP:
"Authorities say tornadoes have left widespread damage in southern Indiana and a sheriff's official says at least one town is 'completely gone.'
"National Weather Service coordinator Bill Whitlock says the agency is tracking 'extreme damage' in the Henryville area, about 20 miles north of Louisville, Ky.
"Clark County Sheriff's Department Maj. Chuck Adams says the nearby town of Marysville is 'completely gone.'"