Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

June 1, 2013

Storm rips through area causing damage, power outages

by Jackson Adams and Bill Grimes The Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — Brad Horton had no idea what had happened.

The Montrose resident had attended a movie in Effingham Thursday night. While it was apparent after the movie that it had rained, Horton said he was still surprised by what he saw as he approached Montrose.

”The lights you would normally see were all out and all you could see was a bunch of emergency lights,” he said.

As it turned out, the emergency lights were there to keep motorists from running over a grain bin that had collapsed onto U.S. 40 near the four-way stop in Montrose. Chief Chris Overbeck of the Montrose Fire Protection District said firefighters were notified about 10:30 p.m. to provide traffic control for workers removing tangled metal from the roadway — a process that took several hours.

Overbeck said Montrose firefighters were also called to a burning tree in Jasper County southeast of Montrose Thursday night. A power line fell on the tree igniting it.

The damage in Montrose, as well as Dieterich and the Island Grove community east of Dieterich, was caused by a severe storm that hit Effingham about 9:30 p.m., bringing with it torrential rains, lightning and thunder, as well as high winds.

Doug Long, the Jasper County EMA coordinator said there was little to do in the county other than clean up the damage caused by the torrential rains and heavy winds.

”We heard about a couple sheds blowing down and a couple power lines falling, buy they’re pretty much all back up now,” he said. “It’s just a matter of cleaning it up before the next one.”

Ameren Illinois reported that nearly 28,000 power customers lost power as a result of the storm. While the bulk of the outages were in communities well west of the Effingham, areas, including Montrose, were without power until early Friday morning.

While power was restored in Montrose and Dieterich after several hours, many Ameren customers in the Decatur and Springfield area remained without power into Friday afternoon.

Those not affected by outages may still have further weather troubles to worry about come Saturday night. Dan Smith, a meterologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln said storms could continue well into early Sunday.

“We have a fairly slow moving and deep storm system across the Dakotas bringing warm wet air from the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “Until that pushes through Saturday night, there’s still chances for thunderstorms and flash foods.”

Smith said the storm systems bring with them a slim chance for tornadoes.

“Until that cold front comes through, the threat’s still there,” he said.

The Sigel Sesquicentennial, scheduled for this weekend, will be continuing despite the weather. Kent Jansen, chairman of the Sesquicentennial committee said Friday, with some activities possibly moving into Sigel St. Michael School. Any canceled events will not be rescheduled, he added.

With weekend activities, such as the Sesquicentennial and the Newton Strawberry Festival, Smith recommended people stay aware of potential emergencies in their area.

“Before they go out, check the latest forecast, check with your favorite media outlet and a portable weather radio at hand for any warnings that may be issued,” he said.

The high winds Thursday also caused a semitrailer to fall on its side in Dieterich Thursday.

According to Illinois State Police District 12, William Kirk, 62, of Pittsfield was driving a 2001 semitrailer at 10:28 p.m. Thursday eastbound on Illinois 33, a quarter of a mile east of Dieterich when heavy wind and rains forced Kirk to stop driving and pull off to the side of the road. A strong gust of wind then pushed the trailer onto its side, blocking both lanes of traffic.

Kirk was taken to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital with injuries.