VIDEO: Cameras rolling when tornado hits Lafayette school

Security footage released Wednesday

LAFAYETTE, Ind. - On Wednesday, school officials released security footage that captured a tornado slamming into Southwestern Middle School in Tippecanoe County.

The video shows the precise moment the twister entered the building. The security cameras are motion-activated and have no audio.

The tornado was one of 28 that hit Indiana on Nov. 17. The storm hit on a Sunday, so students were not present. 

The video shows that the gym and cafeteria were particularly vulnerable. The principal talked about where the students would have taken shelter if they had been in school that day.

"All of them would have been in the middle of a covered area in the center of the building where there are multiple classrooms of smaller size with less roof exposure over them," Principal Karen Smith said.

Community members were left wondering what would happen to the tornado-damaged structure.

"The gym is considered a total loss … For the time being, the steel structure is still in place. Our restoration company is on site putting up temporary walls to keep out  the weather and the elements," Superintendent Scott Hanback said.

The 423 students from the middle school have been welcomed to Wea Ridge Middle School. If their school supplies were blown away, their teachers have been able to shop for replacements at a makeshift store filled with merchandise the community has donated.

"Just to be able to come here and get what we need and to run back to school and be able to provide for those kids. I'm thankful the community has blessed us," teacher Kelly Peckinpaugh said.

Meanwhile, engineers and architects have been trying to determine how to rebuild.

The superintendent will get answers as soon as early next week, but ultimately, the school board will have to make those decisions.

Mintonye Elementary School also sustained major damage from the tornado. No security video was available because the power went out before the tornado hit the building.

The Tippecanoe School Corporation learned Wednesday that the kids who lost class time because of the tornado will not have to make up those days. The Indiana Department of Education granted TSC a waiver for Nov. 18 through Nov. 22.

(Mobile users: Tap "video" tab in app)

Print this article Back to Top