Lebanon Reporter

November 17, 2013

SLIDESHOW and VIDEO: Tornado touches down in Lebanon; 27 homes damaged

Staff report
Lebanon Reporter

Lebanon — More than two dozen homes and several businesses were damaged when a tornado touched down in the Lebanon Business Park and continued on a path to Southside Park just before 4 p.m. Sunday.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann was in Lebanon before 8 a.m. Monday to inspect the damage.

In its final update for the evening Sunday, Lebanon Police Department reported that 27 homes had been damaged and seven of those have been determined to be non-habitable. Five persons were displaced by the damage but were able to find shelter with family or friends, allowing the emergency shelter set up at Stokes Elementary School earlier in the afternoon to be closed.

 According information provided by LPD,  a large section of the southern half of Lebanon was without power after the tornado.  At this time, most power has been restored to the area though many individual homes are still without power. Late Sunday, South East and South Meridian streets remained closed to traffic.

  Five businesses were in the path of the storm. The tornado hit Starbucks, after pulling the roof off Case New Holland and causing heavy damage to the front of Skjodt Barrett. At least two cars and a semi were rolled by the storm. Debris was scattered throughout the city and numerous trees were downed. Despite the damage, the only injuries reported were the occupants of the semi, which had been at the Flying J. It was blown onto the interstate. The occupants were taken to Witham Hospital with non-lifetreatening injuries.

Police agencies assisting in the response were Lebanon Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Zionsville Police Department, Thorntown Police Department, Indiana State Police, Indiana State Excise Police.

Fire departments assisting were Lebanon Fire Department, Center Township Fire Department, Advance Fire Department, Zionsville Fire Department, Jamestown Fire Department, Lizton Fire Department, Perry Township Fire Department

Other agencies assisting were Boone County Emergency Management, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Boone County Amateur Radio.

While only two people were injured in the tornado, many Lebanon residents and workers enduring a harrowing experience as the tornado plowed through a section of the city.

Seventeen year old Carly Arnold had just reported to work at Starbucks and was making whipped cream when the storm hit.

The coffee shop was crowded as travelers had gotten off the highway seeking shelter from the storm, but there was little time to get ready.

"A man said 'get into the bathroom,'" Arnold said. "There wasn't even time to lock the door."

Arnold said that as fellow employee Jacob Bramlet had the glasses blown off his face while he was waiting to get into the restroom.

"People were screaming and one woman was lying on the floor because she was too scared to move," Arnold said. "We heard glass shattering and metal twisting. Then it sounded like a train."

They were only in the bathroom a few minutes, and when they opened the door they saw the building had been destroyed.

"It only came to me now how scary it was," Arnold said.

Just a little farther down Indiana 39, a semi trailer was blown from the Flying J truckstop into the southbound lanes of Interstate 65, closing the highway to just one lane. Husband and wife inside the truck were hurt and taken to Witham Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Lebanon Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Brent Wheat said sightseers were a problem within the affected area as emergency responders and clean-up crews went to work.

Stokes Elementary was temporarily set up as a shelter for anyone injured or displaced by the storm.

As night fell in Lebanon Sunday, structures damaged by the apparent tornado in the area of the I-65 and Ind. 39 had been secured

In the aftermath, Firefighters and volunteers from Lebanon’s Community Emergency Response Teams went door to door along south Meridian and East streets, ensuring no one had been injured. Later in the evening, a Lebanon Police officer checked Beck Street to make sure residents and their homes were safe for the night.

Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis said several homes will have to be demolished.

In the back yard of a home directly behind the South Lebanon Street shopping center, a group of friends assessed the damage.

“There used to be a garage right here,” said Brandon Smith, standing next to a pile of twisted metal and shattered wood.

“We were outside then saw the debris,” said Cassandra Kolpin.

Smith and others saw the tornado hit the Starbucks.

He, Cassandra Kolpin, and others had been outside, but retreated when the weather worsened. Smith said he lay over Kolpin to protect her from debris.

The Boone County Emergency Management Agency set up its emergency headquarters trailer on a parking lot between Starbucks and Gas America.

Red and blue flashes from emergency vehicles intensified as dusk fell.

From Noble Street south, side streets and South Lebanon Street were clogged by private vehicles, as people sought to inspect the damage. Civilians and police created impromptu road blocks to minimize traffic on Meridan and East streets.

Watch the Reporter's website for more updates.

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