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

His couch and a crib had been ripped apart by one of many tornadoes that tore through the central U.S., killing at least three people and injuring dozens more.

The storm peeled open his living room, but at least the house was standing. The one next door was flattened.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” Schmidt said hours after he and his roommate took shelter in a bathtub, using the shower curtain to protect them from flying window glass.

Thursday's outbreak the latest severe weather in what is already considered an early start to the tornado season in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region, where confirmed twisters included one in February in Wisconsin.

At one point Thursday, the string of tornado watches issued by National Weather Service stretched in a line from Texas into northern Ohio.

Storm Damage in Indiana

 

In Indiana, a tornado injured 38 people in Winchester. Three were in critical condition, but their injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.

“There have been many, many significant injuries, but I don’t know the number. I don’t know where they are. I don’t know what those injuries are,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter told reporters just before midnight Thursday. “There’s a lot that we don’t know yet.”

State officials called on Indiana Task Force One to help with search efforts in Winchester, a town of 4,700 people about 70 miles northeast of Indianapolis, according to a post by the rescue team on X. The team is one of 28 Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored Urban Search and Rescue teams in the United States.

“I’m shaken; it’s overwhelming,” Winchester Mayor Bob McCoy said. “I heard what sounded like a train and then I started hearing sirens.”

He and his wife were hunkered in a closet during the twister, which hit about 8 p.m.

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

The suspected tornado damaged a Walmart store and a Taco Bell in Winchester, Randolph County Sheriff Art Moystner told FOX59/CBS4.

A Facebook post on the Winchester Community High School page said all the schools in that school district would be closed on Friday. Another post said the high school had electricity and was open for emergency use for people who “need somewhere warm and dry.”

Indiana Department of Homeland Security posted on Facebook that their staff are on scene in Randolph County, home to Winchester, working with locals and that the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to an enhanced staffing level to respond to the storm.

Indiana officials did issue a travel warning Thursday night for Randolph County because of the damage, a procedure insisting people to stay off the roads that is more typically invoked for severe winter weather.

Just west of that area, Delaware County was under a lesser travel advisory caution. Early assessments from emergency management officials indicate that about half the buildings in the town of Selma in Delaware County were damaged by a possible tornado.

Earlier, storms damaged homes and trailers in the Ohio River communities of Hanover and Lamb in Indiana.

 

Storm Damage in Ohio

 

Three fatalities have been confirmed so far in Logan County, Ohio, according to the sheriff’s department. Chief Deputy Joe Kopu  said there would likely be more fatalities discovered in his area, citing heavy damage in the communities of Lakeview, Midway, Orchard Island and Russells Point.

About the same time that the Indiana towns were struck by severe weather, the suspected twister touched down about 75 miles to the east in Logan County, Ohio.

The tornado hit near the southern end of Indian Lake, impacting the villages of Lakeview and Russells Point, county spokesperson Sheri Timmers said.

“As far as we know, we have lots of injuries. We don’t know the extent of the injuries,” Timmers said. “An RV park was impacted.”

Multiple buildings in Indian Lake, near Wapakoneta, were damaged, but the full extent of the destruction was still being assessed as emergency crews searched the area, Timmers said.

Amber Fagan, president and chief executive of the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said Lakeview was “completely demolished,” with homes, campgrounds and a laundromat hard-hit by the tornado.

“There’s places burning,” she said. “There’s power lines through people’s windows.”

A shelter was opened for displaced people.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources also posted on Facebook that because of the storm damage, Indian Lake State Park will be closed until further notice.

In Ohio’s Huron County, emergency management officials posted on Facebook that there was a “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” near Plymouth.

Jefferson County Sheriff Ben Flint said storms destroyed three or four single-family homes and four or five other structures and demolished several uninhabited campers along the river.

“We were fortunate that no one was injured,” Flint told the AP in a telephone interview.

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles of the Indiana State Police earlier said another suspected tornado struck Jefferson County, damaging several homes and downing trees and power lines.

He posted photos on X showing one home with its roof torn off and another missing roof shingles as well as an image of a baseball-sized hailstone.

Around 2,000 Duke Energy customers in Hanover lost power at one point during the storms, the company reported.

 

Storm Damage in Kentucky

 

In Kentucky, Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark said the storms damaged dozens of structures, including homes.

“It does appear that there is some really significant damage, especially to the town of Milton in Trimble County,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “We think there are over 100 structures that are potentially damaged.”

Storm Damage in Other States

 

Large pieces of hail also was reported in parts of the St. Louis area Thursday afternoon.

There were unconfirmed reports of tornadoes in Jefferson County, Missouri, and Monroe County, Illinois, but no immediate reports of damage.

 

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