Elkhart EMA hunt for tornado evidence in Baugo - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Elkhart EMA hunt for tornado evidence in Baugo

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A Baugo township mailbox was snapped in two by severe weather winds in Elkhart A Baugo township mailbox was snapped in two by severe weather winds in Elkhart
Baugo - Baugo Township in West Elkhart was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods by Monday night's severe storm. But did straight-line winds cause all that damage, was or a tornado to blame?

The National Weather Service depends on local emergency management departments to photograph areas damage reports in the wake of extreme weather. It helps NWS determine storm strength and confirm whether or not a tornado actually touched down during a tornado warning.

Therese Sailor drove down several residential blocks in Baugo with a camera hung around her neck. She stopped every couple houses, got out of her EMA-marked truck, snapped photos of toppled trees and damaged property, and then drove to the next block. Uprooted trees, debris-covered roads, and branches stuck on rooftops became a regular sighting.

"Wow, this area did get a lot of damage," said Sailor to herself as she drove past two and three-story high trees, completely uprooted and laid flat across sidewalks, driveways and roads.

Many Baugo residents woke up without power. Many found wrangled backyard fences, missing lawn decor, fallen shrubs and trees, and other property damage due to the storm. But almost just as many houses, including those neighboring homes hit by fallen trees,  looked eerily manicured and pristine - as if the last 48 hours comprised of only sunshine and clear skies.

Sailor says striking disparities like these are symptomatic of a twister instead of strong winds.

The EMA also looks at how trees toppled over. Trees uprooted in the same direction suggest straight line winds. But twisted-off branches, and scattered trunks, hint that a tornado may have caused the damage.

As they wait for official word, homeowners have their own suspicions about what happened here.

"I don't care what the meteorologists say," said Baugo homeowner Robert Rohm. "It was not wind."

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