Daniels Tours Storm-Damaged Camp Atterbury

Millions Of Dollars In Damage Done

Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state officials toured storm-ravaged areas of central Indiana Thursday to get a first-hand look at the damage left by the state's latest bout of severe weather.

Daniels joined Indiana National Guard Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger in visiting Camp Atterbury, the tornado-stricken facility about 25 miles south of Indianapolis.

Daniels got an overview of the damage in a helicopter tour before going in on the ground.

"When you see cars picked up and thrown onto buildings ... this is about as severe as it gets," Daniels said.

The Guard said two soldiers suffered minor injuries in that storm Tuesday night as they sought shelter from the tornado, which had wind speeds reaching an estimated 130 mph.

Fifty buildings were damaged, along with military and civilian vehicles. Guard officials estimated that damage to the training complex could reach $20 million.

"The National Guard Bureau has already called with the funding streams we have immediately so that we can start to repair," Umbarger said. "Quite frankly, the Army's really taking care of us here, and the reason is that we're so important to the mobilization mission."

Close to 3,000 people, including about 1,000 Marines from North Carolina who had just arrived for special training, were at Camp Atterbury when the tornado rolled through.

Daniels pointed out that despite the destruction, the military installation was fortunate.

"These last two storms, especially when you look at the loss of life in other states, could easily have been that bad here," Daniels said. "For whatever reason, tremendous damage, but much less human costs."

Umbarger and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman visited the tiny Rush County community of Moscow, where another tornado damaged many buildings and injured several people.

"Hearing of the devastation and reading the reports and seeing clips on the news can't compare with being up close and personal comforting the families and hearing the personal stories of the children," Skillman said.

Winds in that storm were estimated at nearly 150 mph, making it a powerful EF-3 on the tornado intensity scale.