JAY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Residents of Northeast Jay County are picking up the pieces after a tornado caused damage to several structures Friday. An EF-2 tornado has been confirmed by the National Weather Service. The tornado had peak winds of 130 mph, was on the ground for around 5.23 miles, and had a maximum width of 500 yards.
The damage happened at least around the area of roads 400 and 500 North. A hog farm on 500 N saw damage to at least three structures including a home, a storage barn, and a barn that houses the hogs. Metal roofing was ripped off those structures and scattered about the surrounding farm area and tree line.
The owner of that property told a WANE 15 crew that their immediate concern was the wellbeing of the hogs. However, they were unable to load them into a tractor-trailer and check them quickly because downed power lines blocked their driveway.
On N 350 East, the home of Matt and Betsy Minnich as well as their neighbors across the street received extensive damage to their homes.
“I actually saw this humongous funnel cloud at my parents’ home and I ran to the house, made phone calls,” said Betsy, who had been roughly two miles south at her parents’ home at the time. “It did not dawn on me that my house was probably right under it.”
“I was at work, Minnich Poultry, just down the road,” added Matt. “We were getting employees down in the tornado shelters and looking out to the west I saw the tornado funnel cloud coming down. [We] got employees safe and honestly was worried about making sure the birds had power, were taken care of, employees were safe and never thought anything of this. My brother came by saying his house was brown and out and he said you might want to check yours out. And as I was talking to him in the driveway, my dad came running said you need to go home. And that’s how I found out.”
The storm damaged their home extensively, tearing off the roof and bricks from their home and downing their shed, leaving behind a major mess for the Minnichs to clean up.
“The windows are blown out glass everywhere,” said Matt. “Obviously, the roof and ceiling are out in the back of the kitchen rather. We now have an open porch for a garage.”
They said it was not an even scatter, however. While some of the belongings were across the house from when they should have been or in the surrounding farmland, other items — like their crucifix and refrigerator magnets — remained in their rightful places.
Now, they said they will likely have months of cleanup ahead of them and will have to move in with their parents. It is not ideal, but it is a minor inconvenience when they think about what they could have lost.
“You look around and you see the task that’s going to be at hand for many months, just picking things through things and picking things up, but again, you see the people around us and you’re just reminded of what truly matters,” Betsy said. “This stuff is all secondary. We were blessed to be able to build our home around 10 years ago, 11 years ago, together. So I was telling someone, it was like a piece of us that’s kind of been destroyed or ripped apart, but yet, it kind of makes you realize that there’s more than just that.”
According to the Jay County EMA, the last time the county saw damage to this extent was in 2017 when a tornado touched down.