By Nancy Price
A tornado ripped through the city of Beech Grove around 7:30 p.m. last Saturday, June 15, severely damaging areas of Beech Grove High School, Alro Steel and 24 apartments in Beech Meadow Apartments.
No injuries were reported.
The EF-1 level storm, the weakest of on the tornado scale, was 200 yards wide with 100 mph winds.
The sirens did not go off until over a half hour after the tornado struck. According to IMPD Commander Tom Sellas, the reasons for the delay were “human error” and technology. The Emergency Operations Center manager did not receive notification in time to activate the sirens, and the sirens were eventually activated to the Marion County Sherrif’s Office.
According to Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley, 911 calls began coming in around 7:38 p.m. Twenty-four families were displaced after roofs and units from three buildings were impaired. Some went to the Red Cross relief center in the Hornet Park Community Center and were offered a place to sleep, food, water, snacks and comfort kits.
“One family spent the night at our shelter on Saturday,” Buckley said. “Over 40 meals were served on Sunday. All families have found other housing.”
Significant destruction to Beech Grove High School included a torn roof, damage to the science academy, the tennis courts and the scoreboard at the high school football field.
A wall was also ripped from Alro Steel on Churchman Avenue
In addition, several trees were down and portable toilets were reportedly seen blowing around in the streets.
On Monday, June 17, an email sent from LaMar Holliday, media relations & community lead volunteer of the American Red Cross – Indiana Chapter stated that the shelter at Hornet Park Community Center was scheduled to close at 7 p.m. as there was no one affected by the tornado that would be staying overnight.
“Red Cross volunteers, however, are on the ground conducting damage assessment,” Holliday stated in the email. “Volunteers continue to work with emergency management agencies, local emergency personnel and community agencies to anticipate the needs of resident.”
Buckley added that although repairing the damages may take up to a year, “the community outpouring has been fantastic. Each day brings new volunteers,” he said.
Those affected by the storms are encouraged to contact the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross at (877) 684-1441 or visit redcross.org/Indiana.