By Tom Murphy
KOKOMO, Ind. — Shaken Indiana residents surveyed homes torn apart by howling winds as authorities assessed the scope of destruction Monday, a day after severe storms and suspected tornadoes swept across the state, injuring dozens of people.
Gov. Mike Pence, who visited several storm-tossed Indiana communities Monday, began his tour in hard-hit Kokomo, where he consoled homeowners outside their ravaged homes.
The storms that his Indiana on Sunday were part of a wave of severe weather that cut across the Midwest, killing six people in Illinois and two in Michigan.
Indiana reported no deaths, but Sunday's storms injured 32 people in the Kokomo area. Kokomo police Major Brian Seldon said only three of the injured people required hospitalization.
He said officials still were assessing damage in the city about 60 miles north of Indianapolis after a possible tornado struck the city's southeast side along U.S. 31.
About 60,000 homes and business, mostly in northern and central Indiana, remained without power Monday morning after winds of up to 86 mph toppled utility poles and damaged transmission towers in a dozen counties.
The National Weather Service dispatched survey teams to several areas of the state to determine whether the damage was caused by tornadoes or high winds in severe thunderstorms.
Sunday's storms left behind damage in the Lafayette and Lebanon areas, as well as the southern Indiana communities of Washington and Vincennes and parts of western Indiana.
Indiana Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said officials are just beginning to assess whether the damage from Sunday's storms is severe enough to request federal disaster assistance.
Among the Kokomo residents reeling from the storm is Patsy Addison, a 62-year-old homemaker who sought shelter in a hall closet in her home Sunday and didn't even have time to close its door when a large maple tree crashed through her home.
The tree landed less than a foot from the closet, showering Addison with insulation but leaving her injured.
"The tree was where I was standing seconds before," she said Monday morning. "I'm thankful to God that I'm still here."
Shortly before Sunday's storm swept through Kokomo, her husband, Robert, had walked with the couple's grandchildren to their daughter's nearby house, which has a storm shelter.
"Houses can be rebuilt, lives can't," he said Monday.