STORM AFTERMATH: Debris filled a yard near Eminence, Ky., on Monday after an early-morning tornado tore through an area around Spring Hill Circle and State Highway 1899. Two houses were destroyed and several others damaged by the storm. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
STORM AFTERMATH: Debris filled a yard near Eminence, Ky., on Monday after an early-morning tornado tore through an area around Spring Hill Circle and State Highway 1899. Two houses were destroyed and several others damaged by the storm. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
Severe thunderstorms cut across central and southern Indiana and Kentucky on Monday, spawning at least four tornadoes that damaged homes and toppled trees. Heavy rains flooded roadways and high wind knocked down power lines, leaving thousands in the dark.

Three houses in northern Kentucky were destroyed by tornados carried by a fast-moving storm system that also brought rain, hail and high winds to other parts of the state.

Officials say at least two people were treated for minor injuries after the houses collapsed near Eminence, which is northeast of Louisville in Henry County.

Weather service meteorologist Tom Reaugh said the tornado that hit the southern part of Henry County packed 140 mph winds. A second tornado with winds between 86 and 110 mph started in southern Indiana before jumping the Ohio River into Jefferson County, then spinning on into Oldham County.

Several areas received up to 3 inches of rain and some hail, and tornado sirens sounded as forecasters issued warnings. Much of the central part of the Indiana is expected to remain under a flood warning today. As of late afternoon on Monday, about 1,900 homes and businesses were without power, down from a peak of about 5,600, Duke Energy reported.

The National Weather Service said a tornado with 120 mph winds hit Celestine, a town of about 250 people in southwest Indiana's Dubois County, and damaged two homes and a double-wide trailer. Another tornado, this one with 100 mph winds, was confirmed near the southern Madison County town of Ingalls northeast of Indianapolis. That tornado was on the ground only briefly, but pushed the roof off a home and damaged other buildings in a half-mile path.

"It was just a wind that kept getting stronger and stronger, to the point that we heard debris," Denise Arney, whose home was damaged, told WRTV in Indianapolis. "We knew we had to get downstairs."

A third tornado with wind peaking at about 100 mph hit near Utica near the Indiana-Kentucky border, tearing roofs off two homes, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said power lines just outside of Muncie were knocked down by the strong winds and areas northeast of Indianapolis sustained most of the wind damage. The agency sent out a team to Madison County and the surrounding communities to assess the wind-damaged areas and determine if a tornado touched down early Monday morning.

Tornado warnings were issued at 2:40 a.m. in Hendricks, Marion, Morgan and Putnam counties after police reported they saw a tornado in Putnam County.

High waters caused by torrential rains also affected many parts of the state.

Ingalls officials said a newly installed storm drain in the lowlands area couldn't keep up with the rainfall. Officials are investigating why the drain didn't prevent the floods.

A bridge on a Madison County road collapsed, carrying a vehicle into a drainage culvert. The county's emergency management agency reported the driver was taken to a hospital for minor injuries.

State Homeland Security officials are urging motorists not to drive into flooded roadways because cars can float away in only a foot of water.

Officials say the weather and strong winds aren't unusual occurrences in Indiana around this time of the year.

"Usually once you start getting into late February into March in Indiana, you start getting those types of severe weather, where you're going to start getting high winds," weather service meteorologist Joe Skowronek said.

In the city of Muncie, 5 feet of flood waters damaged the city's Animal Rescue Fund, a non-profit animal shelter near the Delaware County Airport. The shelter evacuated all of its 150 cats and dogs safely to local veterinarians.




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