MILLBURY, Ohio - A tornado unleashed a "war zone" of destruction in northwest Ohio, destroying dozens of homes and an emergency services building as a line of storms killed at least seven people and threatened to do more damage yesterday as it hit the Northeast.
Storms collapsed a movie theater roof in Illinois and ripped siding off a nuclear plant building in Michigan, forcing a temporary shutdown. But most of the worst affected a 100-yard-wide, 7-mile-long strip southeast of Toledo now littered with wrecked vehicles, splintered wood and family possessions.
The roof and back wall were ripped off Lake High School's gymnasium about 11 p.m. Saturday, hours before the graduation ceremony was supposed to begin. A victim was the father of the class valedictorian. Two buses were tossed on their sides and another was thrown about 50 yards, landing on its top near the high school football field.
Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer flew over the damaged area and said at least 50 homes were destroyed and another 50 severely damaged, as well as six commercial buildings. The storm fell over an area of farm fields and light industry, narrowly missing the suburbs on the southern edge of Toledo.
"It's a war zone," Hummer said. "It's pretty disheartening."
A township police and emergency medical services building was turned into a mishmash of 2-by-4 framing and insulation. Most of the building's back half was ripped off and part of the metal roof was wrapped around a tree. Six police vehicles, half the township's fleet, were destroyed.
Those killed included a person outside the police department and a motorist, Hummer said. He said a young child and two other victims were from Millbury, about 10 miles southeast of Toledo. Neighbors said the house of the high school valedictorian's family was destroyed, and all that was left was a basement filled with water.
In southeastern Michigan on the shore of Lake Erie, siding was ripped off a building at the Fermi 2 nuclear plant, causing it to shut down automatically.
A dozen people were injured in Dwight, Ill., where about 40 mobile homes and 10 other homes were destroyed.