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Weather service: 26 tornadoes hit Indiana Sunday

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 7:59 am

INDIANAPOLIS — Staff from two Lafayette-area schools heavily damaged in severe storms that raked Indiana prepared Tuesday to resume classes at new locations.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least 26 tornadoes hit Indiana on Sunday in the third largest such outbreak in one day in state history, meanwhile, and some of the thousands of Hoosiers still without electricity learned they might not have power restored until late Friday.

Tippecanoe School Corp. Superintendent Scott Hanback told his board of trustees that nearly 1,000 students from Southwestern Middle School and Mintonye Elementary School will resume classes Monday at a middle school with extra space available and at a church, the Journal & Courier reported.

"We know this: We aren't going to have school at Southwestern and Mintonye for a long time," Hanback said.

The weather service has not yet determined whether damage at the schools was caused by a tornado or straight-line winds. It's the second straight year that severe weather has left Indiana schools too damaged to continue classes. A tornado tore through southern Indiana's Henryville Junior-Senior High School on March 2, 2012.

Teachers from Mintonye were allowed to enter the school earlier Tuesday to collect belongings. Only authorized personnel were allowed near the more severely damaged middle school.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security remained in the early stages of assessing whether the damage from Sunday's storms was extensive enough to request federal disaster aid, spokesman John Erickson said. He urged government officials and individual residents to report damage to the state quickly.

"The sooner we get that information ... the better picture we have of how much damage we have and where we need to follow up," Erickson said.

Indiana utilities reported more than 16,500 customers remained without electricity Tuesday. That included nearly 7,300 customer of Indiana Michigan Power Co., which warned some of its customers in the Marion area might not have service restored until late Friday.

Duke Energy said most of its approximately 9,300 customers without power Tuesday were in its Lafayette and Kokomo districts. Duke said it must replace more than 100 utility poles damaged across those areas but expected to have power restored by noon Wednesday.

Kokomo police said they arrested four people for looting a tornado-damaged liquor store. Witnesses told police they saw the four people with backpacks exiting Soupley's liquor store Monday afternoon and leaving the area in an orange car. The Kokomo Tribune reports police stopped a matching vehicle a few blocks away and recovered about $100 worth of alcohol believed taken from the store.

The city has imposed a curfew for storm-damaged areas from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Friday night.