Tornado kills 3 and leaves trails of destruction in Central America

LAKEVIEW, Ohio (AP) — Blaine Schmidt sifted through broken glass and splintered wood throughout his Ohio home Friday, saving a guitar and a bundle of diapers.

His bed and crib were torn apart by one of the many Cyclone It tore through Central America, killing three people and injuring dozens. The storm blew open the wall of his living room, but at least the house was standing. The neighbor was floored.

“I am Lucky to be alive,” Schmidt said, hours after he and his roommate took refuge in a bathtub, using a shower curtain to protect them from flying window glass.

The storms cleared Thursday night Paths of Destruction Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas areas. About 40 people were injured and dozens of homes were damaged in an Indiana community. Tornadoes were also reported in Illinois and Missouri.

The Indian Lake area in Logan County, Ohio was hit hard. Three people died in the county northwest of Columbus, Sheriff Randy Dodds said.

The villages of Russell's Point and Lakeview, where Schmidt lives, suffered the most damage. Villages are dotted with cottages owned by fishermen and boaters.

Search crews and cadaver dogs did not find any victims Friday after going through neighborhoods blocked by gas leaks and fallen trees overnight, Dodds said.

“When you look at the damage, you'd be surprised it's only three,” the sheriff said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who assessed the damage and met with residents, said he was lucky the storm didn't hit over the summer weekend.

Sandy Smith took shelter with her family in the laundry room of their Lakeview home when they heard storm sirens. Seconds later, they heard the house crash. Her husband saw the garage explode.

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She went upstairs to rescue a cat trapped under a bookcase. As soon as she returned, the roof collapsed.

Several businesses were damaged, including a campground, an RV park and a laundromat. Amber Fagan, president of the local chamber of commerce, said the storm created fires in some areas and knocked power lines through home windows.

About 25 people were treated for mostly broken bones and internal injuries at a nearby hospital in Bellefontaine, said Laura Miller, spokeswoman for Marie Rudon Hospital.

About half a dozen residents in Lakeview interviewed by The Associated Press said they heard tornado sirens 10 minutes before the storm hit, after they had left earlier.

Weather officials assessed the damage and confirmed the tornado, counting at least five people in Ohio alone.

In Indiana, a tornado injured 38 people in Winchester, where the mayor said about 130 homes and a Taco Bell restaurant were damaged or destroyed. Three people are in critical condition, but their injuries are not life-threatening, officials said.

Residents who said they had received numerous warnings to take shelter picked up branches and metal sheets from their yards. Shingles littered the streets and fields of the city northeast of Indianapolis.

Gary Todd, 55, said the tornado looked like a “flock of blackbirds”.

Across from a destroyed church, the number “Shelter in Time of Storm”. A song opened for 118.

Mayor Bob McCoy said he and his wife were hiding in a closet.

“I never heard that sound before; I don't want to hear that again,” McCoy said.

About half of the structures in Selma, a town of 750, west of Winchester, were damaged, officials said. Only minor injuries were reported, emergency officials said in a news release.

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Gov. Eric Holcomb praised Indiana's first responders: “By the grace of God, everyone has gotten through it all.”

Storms damaged homes and trailers in the Ohio River communities of Hanover and Lamb in Indiana.

In Milton, Kentucky, two people were injured when their car was struck by debris from a tornado that damaged 100 homes and businesses, Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark said.

In Arkansas, a tornado hit the retirement community of Hot Springs Village, southwest of Little Rock, but there were no reports of deaths or injuries, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Green.


Seaver reports from Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press journalists from around the country contributed to this report, including Isabella Volmert in Winchester, Indiana; Lisa Baumann; Sarah Brumfield; Rick Callahan; Stephanie Tasio; Cathy McCormack; Ken Miller; and Patrick Orzakos.

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