SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Update 3: p.m.: Preliminary data from the National Weather Service says a Tornado that initially touched down in Illinois moved into Indiana remaining on the ground for 8 to 10 miles in Sullivan County Friday.
That’s according to NWS Meteorologist Ted Funk who cautioned that more measurements needed to be taken before he can say for sure how long the tornado remained on the ground. Wind speeds and other measurements reportedly indicate the tornado was an EF-2 at times reaching indicators of an EF-3 tornado.
Funk said the path looks to be between an eighth and a quarter of a mile wide.
While the size of the tornado is still unconfirmed, Funk said without a doubt this was a tornado that caused the damage in Sullivan.
According to Funk, the initial tornado warning for the Sullivan area went out at 10:08 p.m. giving residents about 20 to 22 minutes of lead time to get to safety before the tornado arrived. Funk said the NWS also issued an enhanced warning at 10:17 p.m. which was about 12-13 minutes before the tornado hit the area.
Funk said no matter how infrequent these kinds of events are, it only takes one time to change lives forever.
“We always stress that we want people to understand weather, have a way to learn of the warnings, and have a plan for what to do and where to go when the warning is received,” said Funk.
Governor Eric Holcomb who was just about to tour the damaged areas with Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb told the news media in attendance that the first thing he wanted to say was in relation to the 3 fatalities reported as a result of Friday’s tornado.
“My wife and I want to first pass on our condolences for the three Hoosier souls that we lost due to this natural disaster,” Holcomb said.
The Governor said he had signed an emergency declaration for both Sullivan and Johnson Counties as a result of the damage seen from Friday’s storms. The declaration helps expedite state and federal funding.
The Governor said his visit is to gather information to inform his office of where resources are needed strategically. Holcomb highlighted specifically the next 24 hours with food, water, and shelter needs for displaced residents and called the government’s response an “all-hands-on-deck” effort.
Mayor Clint Lamb thanked the Governor for the quick and repeated contact regarding the situation and reminded residents that a curfew has been set for the area between 7 p.m. Saturday night and 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
Update 2:04 p.m.: Calling the situation a long-term recovery, Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb was joined by a number of state and local officials as he updated the public on the situation in Sullivan Saturday.
The mayor and Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch wanted residents to know that the IHCDA has provided housing vouchers for residents who have been displaced due to the severe weather. The vouchers allow for up to a 30-day stay at a hotel. He asked folks in need of housing to contact City Hall at 110 North Main Street or by calling 812-268-6077.
In an update to the ongoing operations of first responders, the mayor said the search and rescue operation continues.
“We are in the response phase right now, we will be moving into a long-term-recovery phase in the next few days,” Lamb said. “There’s no way in the world that I’d have thought I’d be walking through neighborhoods I used to ride my bike through and just see mass devastation. We see that on national news, whether it’s the war in Ukraine or whatever and that’s quite frankly what this looks like, a warzone.”
The area affected by the storms has been opened up to residents to return to their property and assess the damage. Indiana State Police are continuing to patrol the area and ask non-residents and sightseers to stay home and not come to the area.
A curfew has been announced for the area and will be in place from 7 p.m. Saturday night until 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
Mayor Lamb thanked all levels of local and state government for their cooperation so far and said county commissioners and city officials have been working hand-in-hand in responding to the devastation.
Dumpsters were being brought in as the recovery phase is set to begin. The mayor advised residents to begin insurance claims immediately and encouraged those that are uninsured to contact Red Cross for assistance.
Mayor Lamb also acknowledged that many residents in addition to being displaced likely have lost access to reliable transportation if their vehicles were damaged in the storm, and said city officials are looking into options for transportation assistance.
Mayor lamb will be walking with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb through the area this afternoon as the state government assesses the damage.
When asked what residents in Sullivan need most right now, the Mayor responded with pleas for volunteers to be patient as the city readies to begin a recovery phase in which their help will be much needed.
“We appreciate offers for help, but we still want to make sure we don’t flood the area with people,” Mayor Lamb said. “So please stand by and we will announce our needs over the coming days.”
Mayor Lamb said the public can expect the next update from the city to come sometime on Sunday. But had one more request for well-wishers and those watching from afar.
“We ask for your continued prayers, love, and support for this amazing community”
Update 12:45 p.m.: The United Way of the Wabash Valley has set up a disaster relief fund for Sullivan County. Those wishing to make monetary donations can do so by texting “HelpSullivan” to 41444. Donations can also be made online here, or by mail to;
Help Sullivan Recover
WV Community Foundation
200 S 8th St
Terre Haute, IN 47807
The Sullivan Moose Lodge, 400 E Depot St., has also announced it will be open and serving food for anyone affected by this situation.
Update 10 a.m.: At least three people have died as a result of severe weather sweeping through Sullivan County .
Sullivan City Mayor Clint Lamb spoke during a news conference Saturday morning confirming that Indiana State Police and the County Coroner are working to notify family members and would release the identity of the deceased at a later time.
Additionally, Lamb said nearly 200 structures throughout the county have been damaged by the storm with 155 of those being within Sullivan City limits. The mayor said that those numbers came as emergency responders assessed the situation overnight and there could be more damage found Saturday.
Lamb urged volunteers wanting to help to report to Sullivan High School. Emergency Officials will deploy volunteers only after crews have determined an area is safe to be in. Lamb said some volunteers may not be asked to go out right away, but he urged residents not to “deploy on your own” as many structures could have the risk of collapse.
Residents are also asked not to return to their properties until they have been given the all-clear. Residents in need of food and shelter can report to Abundant Grace Church located at 761 IN-154, Sullivan.
For those missing a loved one or who haven’t heard from their loved ones, Mayor Lamb asked they come to the Unification Center or City Hall.
“City hall is what we call the unification center, so If you have a missing loved one, if you have any questions about a missing loved one, if you would like to report that you have not heard from your loved one. 110 North Main street here at Sullivan City Hall is the place that you need to come. We will have staff working the front. We want to keep folks away from the county Emergency Management building,” Mayor Lamb said.
The mayor stressed that numerous crews are working actively to rescue more residents from damaged structures and credited the community for coming together so quickly in this time of need.
Residents with injured pets or who need temporary housing for their animals are encouraged to contact Honey Creek Animal Hospital in Terre Haute at (812) 234-7752. Honey Creek has offered free care for pets injured as a result of the severe weather.
WTWO’s Dana Winklepleck was in Sullivan Saturday morning and posted the following video on Facebook of the damage to the area.
Dana also spoke with Sullivan Resident Calvin Cox who lost his home in the storm.