INDIANAPOLIS A tornado tore through the east side of Indianapolis, ripping roofs off several apartment buildings, snapping trees and leaving a trail of downed power lines and debris.
No one was killed in the storm late Friday, and only one minor injury was reported, Indianapolis police Sgt. Paul Thompson said Saturday. Television helicopter footage showed several homes damaged over a few miles.
The storm knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers. Many thousands remained without power Saturday afternoon, utilities said.
The American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis housed 135 people overnight in a church gym near the destroyed apartment complex.
"Some of these folks came in with the clothes on their backs or pajamas, and they were soaked, too," said spokeswoman Beth Smietana.
More came later Saturday morning to register for help or pick up baby formula, bottles and diapers.
Natasha Prim, who registered for help, said she and her mother had finished dinner and were enjoying a quiet night at her apartment when she heard tornado sirens followed by silence.
"All of a sudden you could hear the wind picking up, and it just kept getting stronger and stronger," said Prim, 29.
They ran to a closet in the middle of her first-floor apartment and heard the storm tear the roof off.
"It just sounded like 20 trains coming at you," she said. "It seemed like forever, but it was probably 45 seconds at that."
The storm blew out the windows of Latasha Lewis' home, tore a hole through her kitchen roof and ripped her screen door off the front door with the frame still attached. Lewis, 28, fled to her mother's house and managed only to grab some clothes. She also stopped by the shelter for help.
Her 1-year-old daughter, Chardea, played with a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll provided by the Red Cross as people stood in line nearby, waiting to register.
"It could have always been worse," said Latasha's mother, Gwen Lewis. "Thank God, at least we're living."
The tornado was part of a system that swept through Illinois and Indiana with heavy rain, high winds, thunder and lightning. Witnesses reported a tornado in an open field in Carroll County, northwest of Indianapolis, said Mike Koch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis. That twister did no damage.
Near Washington, D.C., firefighters reported a possible tornado, but no injuries or damage were reported.