Storms strike Indiana hard

SALEM, Ind. – Gov. Joe Kernan declared a disaster emergency Friday for parts of Indiana hard-hit by destructive wind and torrential rain that swamped rivers and left some residents stranded.

The governors of Kentucky and West Virginia also declared emergencies in the wake of flooding and storm damage.

This week’s storms were blamed for at least four deaths; three in Kentucky and one in West Virgnia. A woman in Kentucky remained missing after a truck in which she had been riding was swept away.

In Indiana, severe storms Thursday destroyed at least 19 homes and heavily damaged 31 others. A dam that holds back a lake south of Salem, about 100 miles south of Indianapolis, also was damaged.

“It’s amazing that there’s no loss of life. This was a storm that had obviously tremendous capacity to be able to dump an awful lot of water like it did,” Kernan said after surveying storm damage.

Kernan said he saw flood damage and evidence that a tornado “cut a very wide swath” south of Salem during a 90-minute helicopter flyover of parts of Orange, Washington and Clark counties, in the southeastern part of the state.

The National Weather Service sent a crew to survey the area, but had not determined by late Friday afternoon whether there had been any actual touchdowns, said Robert Szappanos, a meteorologist with the weather service in Louisville, Ky.

Heavy flooding on Indiana’s Blue River also stranded more than a dozen people in their homes, and they had to be rescued by sheriff’s deputies in longboats and airboats.

An apparent tornado damaged about 50 homes in Martinsburg. Some homes were then hit by floodwaters, including a poultry farm, authorities said. A truck hauled away hundreds of dead chickens.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Motsinger said about 27 residents were trapped Thursday and Friday in Fredericksburg and needed to be rescued by boat.

About 2,463 power customers of Cinergy/PSI Energy remained without electricity Friday evening.

In neighboring Kentucky, storms that swept through the northern part of the state and dumped heavy rain caused flooding and killed three men, state police said.

The men were riding in a truck that was swept away late Thursday in Lewis County, Ky. A woman in the truck was still missing Friday night.

Los Angeles Times photo

A home and cars sit in floodwater Friday in Fredericksburg, Ind.

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