Southwestern Middle School in Tippecanoe County suffered significant damage as did Mintonye Elementary when strong winds swept through the Lafayette area Sunday.
The middle school’s gymnasium became full exposed when the front wall came down. The basketball goal was ripped out of the building, and thrown into the parking lot.
It is unclear how long the most impacted schools will keep their doors closed, but all Tippecanoe County schools are closed Monday. Homeland security officials were on site overnight Sunday.
“They’re both extremely damaged. It’s going to be a difficult time for the school corporation to get back to normal,” said First Sergeant Brian Olehy with Indiana State Police.
“It’s pretty disheartening. We spent a lot of time making this place beautiful, and we’ll start over, and do it again,” said John Zanker, a Lafayette homeowner who said he likely lost upwards of 50 of his 60 old oak trees, some that were ripped out of the ground.
Luckily, the home Zanker shares with his wife and young son only suffered only minor damage. He said they hid in their concrete basement during the storm.
Homeowners in the small community of Wingate in Montgomery County did the same.
“The sirens went off. We got some hail. The winds started picking up, and all of a sudden, it just cut loose,” said Steve Smith, a Wingate homeowner.
Around his home were toppled trees, down power lines, and what was left of a shed.
“It’s not supposed to happen to you, your friends, or your neighbors, but this one, we watched a while, and it didn’t look good. I have been here ten years, and this one bothered me than any other, I had a bad feeling about this one,” said Zanker.
“I have seen and spoken to people who have had several bits of their homes damaged or destroyed. Roofs, shingles and other debris were in their yards. There were reports of things that have come from several miles away and landed in people’s’ yards,” said Olehy.
Indiana State Police cleared roads in the southern portion of Tippecanoe County as did some homeowners so crews could secure down power lines. Most of Lafayette was still without power Sunday night.