November 7, 2005

Indiana tornado deals death and destruction

By John Gress

EVANSVILLE, Indiana (Reuters) - No more victims were likely
to be found in the remains of a mobile home park shredded by a
tornado that killed 22 people in Indiana, rescue workers said
on Monday.

Vanderburgh County officials said searches would continue
throughout the day at Eastbrook mobile home park in Evansville,
where 17 people died, but it was believed everyone there had
been accounted for after Sunday's twister.

Sheriff Brad Ellsworth said the tornado could not have
touched down in a worse place -- a cluster of mobile homes
surrounded by farmland where "there is not a place to escape
to" with 11 minutes warning in the middle of the night.

The dead there ranged from children aged 2, 5 and 6 to a
78-year-old man. County officials revised the number of dead in
the park down by one from Sunday. Five deaths were confirmed in
neighboring Warrick County.

More than 200 were injured in the southwest Indiana region,
some of them critically, after the storm hit at 2 a.m.

About a mile from the park in the town of Newburgh, Sherri
Hudson returned to what was left of her home, where only one
wall was left standing. She and her husband Jerry survived, she
said, only because of a frantic telephone call from their son,
Casey, telling them to ask no questions but to go to the
basement immediately.

"We no sooner got down there than it was like a bomb
exploded. All the debris came falling down the stair," she said
in an interview.

"I came back today and just lost it. The only thing left
are the cabinets in my kitchen. The dishes are still in them
untouched," she said.


At Eastbrook, whose mobile homes had no sheltering
basements, survivors told of being awakened by roaring winds,
many not hearing warning sirens that sounded not long before,
and trying to seek hiding places as their homes exploded around
them. One woman told ABC-TV on Monday her mobile home was
lifted twisting through the air like the fictional Dorothy's
farmhouse in the Wizard of Oz, landing three our four streets

U.S. President George W. Bush, visiting Panama, said he had
called Indiana Gov. Mitchell Daniels and asked him if more
federal action were needed.

"He felt like the response that we had given was
appropriate at the time. And many Americans are now asking
God's blessings on those who suffered through this natural
disaster," Bush told reporters.

A local emergency board member, quoted by the Evansville
Courier & Press, said officials five years ago looked into a
system that would automatically ring telephones in
neighborhoods known to be in the path of a tornado but rejected
it because it cost several million dollars.

But mobile homes -- manufactured units without basements
that are typically arrayed in clusters -- are especially
vulnerable to tornadoes and even an added layer of warning may
not have saved lives.

It was the deadliest U.S. tornado of 2005. Through
September there had been only 10 tornado deaths -- eight of
them mobile homes residents. In any given year, there are about
70 U.S. tornado fatalities.

The Evansville newspaper quoted local insurance adjusters
as saying property damage, based on a cursory look, could run
as high as $100 million.

The storm touched down in northern Kentucky, skipped across
the Ohio River into southern Indiana.