TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. — The National Weather Service (NWS) Indianapolis confirmed two tornadoes touched down during a storm Friday in north-central Indiana, leaving behind a trail of debris at several farms.
According to the NWS, the first tornado was an EF1, with maximum winds of 95 miles per hour and a path length of more than two miles. It began in Dayton in Tippecanoe County at 8:18 p.m. and ended in Rossville in Carroll County at 8:23 p.m.
In the NWS’ report, it said the tornado originated near the intersection of 1025 East and 100 North in eastern Tippecanoe County. The report detailed property damage on a farm before the tornado continued moving.
That farm is owned by Bill Field and his family. He traveled into town with his wife Friday night unaware that a storm was on the way.
Field said he received a call from his daughter, who was home working with cattle. She said, “Something terrible has happened,” recalled Field. “We got back, and it was just a mess. We had literally thousands of pounds of tree limbs and machinery rolled all over.”
The roof to the barn, which Field said was built around 1880, was lifted and thrown about 20 yards to the southeast. The tornado also knocked down a small windmill and moved or overturned several farm vehicles and pieces of equipment.
“We can always replace a barn. The barn’s been here since about 1880. It’s withstood a lot of winds, and it just so happened that this was more than it could take,” Field said.
He said although the barn was half gone, their main priority was making sure nobody and no animals were hurt. After clearing the barn, Field said they found a baby calf in the back that survived the storm. When the calf was reunited with its mother, Field said it immediately started nursing right away.
Up the road, within eyesight of Field’s farm, are two more farms that suffered damage from the tornado.
According to the NWS report, the tornado briefly lifted and then landed in a cornfield, where it hit a barn and a house along County Line Road, northeast of the point of origin. The tornado tore a roof off a small barn and threw tree branches to the side of the house, including several that went through windows.
The tornado continued on a northeast path to just north of the intersection of County Road 700 South and 800 West, where it hit another farm just over the line in Carroll County.
Two barns on the property suffered significant damage from the tornado. One lost a roof, the other had walls collapse. According to the NWS, this is the spot where the tornado appears to have ended.
Several neighbors said they witnessed the tornado as it struck the farm.
“The heavy rain had just stopped, so the wife stepped outside to look for rainbows. She was taking a look, and she sees what she thought was a cold air funnel. It ended up not being a cold air funnel,” said neighbor Shawn. “It was an actual tornado in the cornfield. It looked like it was coming for our house.”
Shawn said his family scrambled to get their animals inside and their son to the basement safely.
“She tells us it’s hitting our neighbor’s house,” Shawn said. “It took a lot of trees out as well, and then it jumped and went into the cornfield and to our neighbors who live in Carroll County.
“It went between their house and a pole barn, tore out some chicken coops, other things like that and continued and tore up a barn.”
He added that it also tore part of another barn away.
That neighbor also wasn’t home at the time the storm passed through, according to Shawn. He said they watched, knowing they couldn’t do anything about it until it passed.
“You feel helpless. I mean, you’re sitting there watching this twister of wind peel pieces of your neighbor’s building apart and spinning them up into the air,” he said. “You stand here, and you just feel helpless you can’t do anything about it.”
The moment they could, Shawn said his family ran over to the farm. They weren’t alone.
“Several of the neighbors saw it hit their farm, so we all kind of in our own way made our way over there,” he shared. “I called the owner of the property and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, a tornado just took out a couple of your barns.'”
Shawn said when the neighbor got home, he told them there was a litter of 10 puppies inside the collapsed barn.
“My 14-year-old son and I and several of the other neighbors were crawling around in this barn, and we found all 10 puppies,” said Shawn. “There were chickens loose, there were goats loose that we had to help corral all of them and get them into other facilities.”
He said they also found several newborn kittens under the collapsed chicken coop. They were able to rescue them and bring them to a safe location.
Shawn said not only did neighbors come together quickly, but so did members of the church his neighbors belong to.
“A lot of the folks from their church showed up, and they’re like worker ants. They just swarmed it, they dismantled it, they burned the wood, they separated the metal. Everyone brought different pieces of equipment that could help remedy or repair things.”
Shawn said they came on Friday night and were back Saturday to help once again.
“It was amazing. It’s really heartfelt to see how much out here people band together,” he expressed.
Over at Field’s farm, Bill said neighbors also showed up to help him. He said they brought wood chippers, helped clean up the glass, nails, boards and debris on the lawn. Field said they could not have done it without their neighbors’ help.
“It was just kind of cool that there was two or three of us that got a lot of damage, and all of the neighbors came together and cleaned up everything,” said Field.
Field has owned the farm for about 30 years, he said. They raise cattle and chickens, have an orchard and grow corn and soybeans. He said it’s a place to raise his children and allow them to stay connected with where their food comes from.
He said he is thankful nobody was injured and is grateful for the support of his neighbors and everyone who has stepped in to help with cleanup efforts.
“We’re gonna figure out how to get through this and make repairs, move on, and we’re not gonna let it paralyze us,” said Field.
Shawn said he is grateful his neighbor was also uninjured and was glad to see so many people lend a helping hand on Friday night and Saturday.
“Those chickens and those goats are very important to him and his children and whatnot, so the cattle, their livelihood, that’s what puts food on his table and stuff, so all of them are important,” said Shawn, “We got very lucky, none of them were killed, but if that collapsed on his cattle, that would have been a major hit to his industry.”
“I hope they get things up and running pretty quick so they can get back to normal,” he said.
The NWS report said there was a second tornado that originated in Burlington in Carroll County around 9:09 p.m. and stayed on the ground for about 3 minutes and traveled just over 2.3 miles. According to the NWS, who classified it as an EF0, it reached winds between 70 and 74 mph.
The NWS said the survey report was preliminary in nature and could be updated.