Cleanup efforts continue in Clinton County after straight-line winds cause damage

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CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. – The National Weather Service confirms it was straight-line winds, not a tornado that hit Clinton County over the weekend.

But with winds of 80 to 85 miles per hour, there’s still a lot of damage left behind.

People I talked to here in Clinton County are shocked to hear it wasn’t a tornado that cut through the east side of Frankfort and collapsed this garage.

It was straight-line winds that picked up cinder blocks like these, tossing them into nearby houses, putting everyone inside in danger.

“I just got behind the refrigerator and kept saying, ‘God have mercy. God have mercy!’” said Faye Beck, the wife of a local pastor whose church was badly damaged in the storm.

Faye took cover in her house as what she thought was a tornado roared past her house. When the wind stopped blowing she saw the garage behind their house folded in on itself.

Not knowing that, her husband Ed, the pastor of First Church of the Nazarene, prayed as he saw the damage on his way home to her.

Cracked and tipped over, he saw the steeple on the roof of the church, the most visible sign of the storm’s strength.

“You kind of imagine how delicate and fragile life is,” said Ed.

And on either side of their house, he saw street poles and debris through cars.

What he couldn’t see were the walls cracked inside a salon next door, where cinder blocks slammed into the walls as clients sat in chairs. The stylists tell us they have days of cleanup ahead.

Mike Tate can sympathize with long cleanups and recoveries.

“Lights went out and you could hear it raining hard and we’re going, ‘Oh here we go again!’” recounted Tate.

Earlier this year, Tate, the deputy fire chief for the Forest Fire Department, saw what happened when a tornado obliterated half of their sturdy building.

Today, all they have is a concrete slab as they wait to rebuild. Tate feels more tornados and high-wind storms than ever are creating stories like theirs.

“There was one two or three years ago that just went south of my house about a half mile, but yeah, there’s been a lot lately, but I don’t know why,” said Tate.

The data from National Climatic Data Center backs up Tate’s intuition.

Severe weather has been happening more frequently in Clinton County over the last thirty years. The good news, he and the Becks say, is at least people are staying safe.

“No one was hurt and that’s what we’re most thankful for,” said Ed.

Ed tells CBS4 they’ll have to pull the steeple out of the roof and patch the whole thing before they can move forward. They also have to replace the garage.

As for the Forest Fire station, they won’t be able to start rebuilding until next spring, nearly one year after the tornado hit them.

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