CANNELBURG, Ind. – Amish farmers tracked down missing cattle and surveyed what remained of their barns Wednesday as residents across three Midwestern states began cleaning up the debris left behind by a deadly storm and its nearly three dozen tornadoes.
One tornado swept through two counties between Evansville and Bloomington as an F3, with winds of 158-206 mph, leaving at least 60 homes uninhabitable.
The area's Amish and Mennonite communities sustained some of the worst of the damage when the tornado hit Tuesday. They lost two schools, about 10 businesses, 25 barns and scores of animals, Davies County Sheriff's Detective Ron Morgan said. But no deaths were reported there, and it was clear people had taken precautions.
Typically, about 100 people would have been inside the nearby K & K Industries factory building trusses about the time the tornado hit, but the managers sent everyone home ahead of the storm, said employee Abe Knepp.
The tornado blew the factory blown apart, leaving boards strewn about like toothpicks.
"It's a miracle that everybody got out of here," Knepp said.
Tuesday's storms were the third deadly outbreak of twisters to hit the Midwest this month, and the second in the southern Indiana region.
A tornado killed 23 people in the Evanston area, about 60 miles south of Cannelburg, on Nov. 6. Less than a week later, nine tornadoes swept through central Iowa, killing one.
The weather conditions Tuesday afternoon were similar, and ripe for tornadoes: A cold front moving rapidly east collided with warm, unstable air from the south to produce thunderstorms that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, meteorologists said. The National Weather Service had preliminary reports of at least 35 tornadoes.
In western Kentucky, roofs were caved in, walls blown out and entire buildings blown off foundations in Madisonville after an F3 tornado ripped a 17-mile path across the county.
"We heard a weird sound coming through, kind of a whistle," said Penny Leonard, 37, who sought shelter in the basement of a Madisonville hospital. "I thank God I'm safe."
Sixty miles to the southwest, near Benton, a 63-year-old man was killed when the storm blew his mobile home off its foundation and the home rolled and caught fire, said Lori King, public information officer for Marshall County Emergency Management Services.
The storms also brought downpours, flooding some streets and low-lying areas. A teenager in Indiana died after her car skidded on a water-covered road and overturned east of Indianapolis, Hancock County Sheriff's Sgt. Bridget D. Foy said.
In Tennessee, Henry County emergency officials had to scramble for shelter themselves when their office was struck by a tornado.
About 50 miles to the east, four mobile homes and two houses were destroyed in Cunningham in Montgomery County. A young girl was rescued from one trailer that had tumbled down a hill.
Near Paris, about 90 miles west of Nashville, Jason Coffield and a group of friends picked through debris Wednesday as they waited for an insurance adjuster to arrive in Henry County. His house had been destroyed, even thought flimsier trailer homes across the street survived.
"We're just cleaning up this humongous mess," he said. "I had accumulated too much stuff anyway."