Tornadoes swept across areas of the Midwest early this morning, damaging areas including Southern Illinois, Southern Indiana and Kentucky.
While most of Vanderburgh County remained undamaged, Newburgh, a town about 15 miles east of Evansville, was struck, making this the third time in the past 10 years severe weather has struck the small town along the Ohio River.
The sirens alerted the city around 6 a.m. Two homes were reported destroyed on Peachtree Street as well as other homes damaged along West Chester Drive, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Numerous trees were reported down along highway 66. The damage hasn’t been officially labeled caused by a “tornado.” No injuries or deaths have been reported as of this afternoon.
According the Courier and Press, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency said in Southern Illinois is six deaths are confirmed as of 12:24 p.m. At least 100 people are injured and others missing, according to WIBC News.
No one from the Harrisburg’s Sherriff Department was available for comment.
Tornados also hit Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.
The tornado hit close to home for Taylor Courtney, freshman nursing major and Kristen Nicotra, a USI alumni and Gamma Phi Beta adviser. Nicotra’s family lives in Harrisburg, Ill. She was sleeping when her brother called and woke her to tell her a tornado just passed Harrisburg and was heading her way.
“We immediately jumped out of bed, grabbed the kids and went to the basement,” Nicotra said. “As soon as we were down there we started checking Facebook and Twitter to see what was going on and realized how severe the weather really was.”
After the storm passed Nicotra started calling family members and checking friends Facebooks to see if anyone she knew had been hurt and find out what kind of damage the tornado caused.
Her parent’s house was barely hit and only had a few tree limbs in their yard, but her grandma’s garage collapsed totaling her car and the garage. Her sister-in-law took cover under the kitchen table and described the tornado sounding like a freight chain passing over her house, Nicotra said.
“Right now my dad is volunteering along with a majority of the community to help those that are still trapped in their basement,” Nicotra said. “It’s a close knit community, and it will be a hard pill to swallow for all of us.”
Courtney was sleeping at her grandparent’s house in Evansville when they woke her up and dragged her downstairs to watch the news. After seeing the damage that happened in Henderson, Courtney started calling her mom who lives there.
“I’ve called and called, but there is still no word from her,” Courtney said. “I’m going to keep calling until she answers. The uncertainty is killing me.”
Evansville is no stranger to tornados and severe weather.
The last tornado to be seen in Evansville occurred Nov. 6, 2005. It was an F-3 scale tornado, and its wind speed reached up to 200 mph. It touched down about 1:50 a.m. in Henderson county and moved northeast across Northeast Vanderburgh County, to the town of Newburgh. At the time, it was the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1999, killing 23 residents and injuring over 200. The tornado traveled approximately 41 miles, leaving more than 100 homes and buildings devastated or destroyed in its wake.