INDIANAPOLIS — Multiple tornadoes touched down in central Indiana on Wednesday, tearing the roofs off apartment buildings, sending air conditioners falling onto parked cars and cutting power to thousands of people.
The National Weather Service reported a "confirmed large and destructive tornado" hit about 10 miles east of Kokomo, or about 40 miles north of Indianapolis. Meteorologist Dave Tucek said a tornado moved across the city Wednesday afternoon.
The city of Kokomo and Howard County declared a joint state of emergency closing all roads to people and motor vehicles, apart from emergency vehicles, until 9 p.m. Wednesday.
"It's crazy. It's a madhouse," said Mitchell Carlson, a maintenance technician at the Park Place Apartments in Kokomo. He said the complex has 16 buildings and "probably eight of them don't have a roof."
But there have not been any injuries there, he said. "So, I guess we're all blessed at the Park Place."
He estimated 20 to 30 cars had been damaged by falling tree limbs and air conditioners.
Utility companies reported more than 39,000 customers were without power Wednesday evening. Duke Energy said more than 25,000 customers lost electricity in Howard County alone.
"We're just asking people to sit tight, especially if there's a tornado warning in their area, so they can stay as safe as possible," Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said.
Police officers in Indianapolis spotted at least two funnel clouds close to the ground in the city just south of Interstate 70, but the department had received no reports of damage, according to Officer Jim Gillespie of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Local emergency dispatchers said only minor injuries had been reported. Television station WTHR showed images of downed trees and a toppled Starbucks in the area.
The weather service also said Indiana State Police observed a tornado northwest of the Montgomery County town of New Ross, or about 35 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
Indiana University Kokomo canceled all events on campus Wednesday evening due to the severe weather. School officials in Avon, near Indianapolis, cited the severe weather in ordering all buses to return to the nearest school.