Tornadoes Killed at Least 7 People in Northwest Ohio

Tornadoes and thunderstorms tore through the Midwest on Sunday, killing at least seven people in Ohio and triggering the automatic shutdown of a nuclear power plant in Michigan.

Mary Hoefflin, left, and Lauren Densic hug amid tornado debris on Main Street in Millbury, Ohio Sunday, June 6, 2010.

Tornadoes and thunderstorms tore through the Midwest on Sunday, killing at least 7 people, including a child, in northwest Ohio and destroying dozens of homes, upending school buses and police cars in one miles-long trail of destruction in Ohio, and ripping off siding on a nuclear plant in Michigan., according to the Reuters’ report.

Rescue officials in northwest Ohio were still searching through homes Sunday and couldn’t say whether anyone else was missing, Lake Township Fire Chief Todd Walters said.

Police Chief Mark Hummer flew over the damaged area and said at least 50 homes were destroyed and another 50 severely damaged, as well as six commercial buildings.

He estimated a 7-mile path of destruction about 100 yards wide. The storm that hit around 11 p.m. Saturday fell over an area of farm fields and light industry, narrowly missing the heavily populated suburbs on the southern edge of Toledo.

A home destroyed by a tornado in Millbury, Ohio, Sunday, June 6, 2010. Photo: Reuters

At least 30 people in the Toledo area were hospitalized, including two adults and two children in critical condition, from the storms that caused severe damage to homes, the police station and a high school. Dozens of minor injuries from the storms have also been reported in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.

Those killed included a person outside the police department and a motorist, according to Mark Hummer.

He said a young child and two other victims were from nearby Millbury, a bedroom community of roughly 1,200 about 10 miles southeast of Toledo. Hummer said two other people died at hospitals but he did not have details.

The tornado ripped the roof and back wall off Lake High School’s gymnasium about 11 p.m. Saturday, several hours before the graduation ceremony was supposed to begin there.

Tornado debris is shown on Main Street in Millbury, Ohio Sunday, June 6, 2010.

The school board president said one of the victims was the father of the class valedictorian.The school has rescheduled graduation for Tuesday evening at a Toledo community college.

“It’s a war zone,” Hummer said. “It’s pretty disheartening.” Hummer also said Sunday afternoon all buildings had been searched and everyone was accounted for. Rescuers were searching a wooded area and a field near the worst hit portion of town as a precaution.

In southeastern Michigan, severe storms and high winds ripped siding off a building at the Fermi 2 nuclear plant, causing it to shut down automatically, said Dan Smith, the public information officer for Monroe County.

Debris lies scattered along Main Street in Millbury, Ohio, Sunday, June 6, 2010.

Investigators were inspecting the nuclear plant on the shore of Lake Erie on Sunday morning, and the plant was expected to go back into operation, Smith said.

About 35,000 people were without power but it wasn’t clear whether that was directly related to the nuclear plant’s shutdown or because of damage to power lines in the area, Smith said.

Eleven people with minor injuries were taken to hospitals from Dundee, Mich., where the weather service was looking into reports of a tornado touching down.

Tornadoes also were reported in Illinois. More than a dozen people were injured in Dwight, Ill., where about 40 mobile homes and 10 other homes were destroyed, Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said.

Tornado damage is shown on Main Street in Millbury, Ohio Sunday, June 6, 2010.

The storms left a trail of damaged homes in northern Indiana and a tornado sighting was reported, but no one was injured. In eastern Iowa, buildings were damaged and one person was hurt when a tornado touched down in Maquoketa.

A cold front colliding with warm unstable air produced the storms that struck Saturday night, meteorologist Marty Mullen of the National Weather Service said, and that front was draped from New England south through the mid-Atlantic region later Sunday. The storm was weakening as it headed east.

Truck driver Carl Gooden, 54, said he, his wife and his adult son were sitting on the porch when they heard a roar and ran for the bathroom.

Wind tore off most of the home’s roof and ripped open the north side of house, exposing a bedroom and a closet where sweat shirts and dresses were still on their hangers. In the front yard, a sliver of aluminum siding from a neighbor’s barn was wrapped around a teetering telephone pole.

Gooden said his family lost two garages and five vehicles. The front yard was littered with decades of memories: a Loretta Lynn album, a porcelain lamp and a green golf bag were among the recognizable items. “My heart sinks,” Gooden said. “I worked a lifetime for all this.”

But he wasn’t about to go in to retrieve items such as his wife’s jewelry or his NASCAR collectibles. His home was knocked 5 feet off its foundation and basement washer and dryer were all that was holding it up. “It’s not worth dying for,” he said. [via NY Post, ABC News and Reuters]

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