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'Destructive' Tornado Hits Indiana, Levels Starbucks

"It was hellish, it was scary. A lot worse than I thought it would be," a witness said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    'Destructive' Tornado Hits Indiana, Levels Starbucks
    WTHR

    At least two tornadoes struck central Indiana on Wednesday, demolishing a Starbucks coffee shop and downing trees, authorities said.

    The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning saying a "confirmed large and destructive tornado was about 10 miles east of Kokomo," or about 40 miles north of Indianapolis.

    Meteorologist Dave Tucek said a tornado moved across the city Wednesday afternoon. He added there were reports of damage but he had no specifics.

    According to NBC station WTHR, the twister was so forceful it flattened a Starbucks at Markland Mall.

    “We’re relieved to report that all employees and customers in the store are safe,” said Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges, adding that no injuries had been reported. “Our heartfelt concern goes out to those affected by this,” he said.

    Governor of Indiana Mike Pence, who is also Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate, told reporters on his campaign charter plane that he was not aware of any deaths or serious injuries. The plane is headed back to Indianapolis.

    "I'll be traveling on the emergency operations center for a full briefing, and we'll have more information for you at that time," Pence said. "The storm system has not left the state of Indiana yet, so this is a real-time event we¹re monitoring very closely"

    Pence praised first responders in Indiana before stating his intentions to stay in the state while the damage is assessed. 

    "As governor of Indiana, I have no higher priority than the safety of the people of our state," he said. "And so we're headed home, and we're going to be home so long as it takes for us to make sure these communities have the resources and the support they need to put themselves back together after these very violent storms."

    WTHR showed images of downed trees and the damaged Starbucks in the area. A Starbucks worker told the station that everyone made it out of the Starbucks unharmed.

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    Brad Herold of the National Weather Service said funnel clouds had been reported earlier in the day.

    “Media is reporting some damage to Starbucks,” Herold said. “I believe that’s been completely destroyed, looks like it’s been flattened like a pancake.”

    Brandon Mobley was at a nearby Chili's restaurant when the tornado touched down.

    "It was hellish, it was scary, a lot worse than I thought it would be," he said.

    Howard County Sheriff's Department dispatcher Aaron Dunkle said that based on calls from residents there were "numerous reports of injuries and homes damaged."

    The National Weather Service said it had not received any immediate reports of injuries.

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    The weather service also said Indiana State Police observed a tornado northwest of the Montgomery County town of New Ross, or about 35 miles northwest of Indianapolis, and moving east.

    According to WTHR, there are reports of a tornado near New Ross in Montgomery County.

    Tornado warnings were in effect for the area starting at 3 p.m. and will continue until 3:30 p.m., according to WTHR.