A warm Sunday morning yielded to a dangerous, damaging group of storms in Central and North Central Illinois, including a “tornado on the ground” that cut a path toward Dana in a storm that produced a large tornado that devastated Washington, Ill., neighborhoods.
Shortly before the Washington tornado, areas in Putnam County and La Salle-Peru were receiving hail and high winds.
“We had a 73 mile-an-hour wind measured at the fire station,” Standard fire chief Mike Skowera said, adding that the fire station garage doors looked like they were partially sandblasted after being pelted by hail during those winds.
One corner of Dana took heavy damage from the tornado. Ricky Bane, Dana Fire Department president of the board of trustees, said one house was “pretty well leveled” and four others are “pretty much uninhabitable” due to roof damage and missing windows.
“It just really grazed the corner of town,” Bane said, adding that he was glad that its path was not slightly different, “Another eighth of a mile and it would have gone through the middle of town.”
All power will be out for several hours. The fire department was getting ready to cook a chili supper for Dana residents.
In addition to the damage in town, nine or 10 machine sheds or other farm buildings were destroyed in the Dana fire district and “six or seven” grain bins were missing from their foundations. He said he heard the truck stop at the north end of Minonk sustained damage, as did a home that’s in a straight line between the Dana damage zone and that truck stop.
“We’ve got a pretty good cleanup ahead of us,” Bane said.
As of 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Minonk firefighters still were checking on tornado damage west and north of their town. Route 251 was closed in the Minonk area due to “large power lines” downed on the north side of town. An Interstate 39 closure also was reported.
In Princeton, one of Sunday’s storms blew down the tall Pilot truck stop sign that included the company logo and electronic fuel price updates. The sign fell and damaged a semi trailer. There were no injuries, and that was the only major damage Princeton firefighters were aware of in the city Sunday.
“We were very fortunate compared to the people down in Washington,” Princeton firefighter Luke Davis remarked Sunday afternoon.
That storm that produced the Washington was just one of many in Illinois, including storms that arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and delivered marble-sized hail and even a few quarter-sized stones south of Shooting Park Road in Peru.
In the La Salle-Peru area, small tree branches were down in many streets in the La Salle-Peru area, as 60-mph gusts were reported before 11 a.m. today. In Peru, firefighters were called for various hazards, including a small tree that briefly blocked most of West Street between Centennial Park and Peru Public Library briefly at about 10:45 a.m. With more storms predicted, La Salle crews were clearing debris away from drains, such as at Third and Marquette, so puddles could subside.
In Putnam County, downed trees and power outages were reported countywide. Standard firefighters were called after flying debris knocked a gauge off an above-ground array of natural gas distribution pipes at Moews Seed along Route 89 south of Route 71 just before 11 a.m. Fire chief Mike Skowera said when the gauge attached to a small pipe broke off a big pipe, gas began to vent out, and could be smelled three miles east in Standard. The fire department evacuated a resident at the Moews property for about an hour while Ameren was fixing the leak.
Standard firefighters also were called just before noon about a live wire on a house on Seventh Street, about a power pole down south of town, a tree down on the Bottom Road east of Route 89 and two evening mutual aid calls to assist Granville Fire Department after alarms were triggered at Putnam County High School and the primary school.
Hennepin firefighters were called about several downed trees and as of 8 p.m., Putnam County's 911 system was down. Emergency departments were using cruder but effective knox box systems.
Peru activated extra city and emergency crews to clear leaves from catch basins, and due to power lines down. Brunner Street east of Water Street in eastern Peru was inundated and a car was reported in the water “up to its door handles” at one location. Peru fire chief Jeff King said city and fire crews cleared leaves from drains to eliminate some road flooding, such as at Sixth and Plum streets, along Marquette Road from 26 th to 28 th streets as well.
A downed line closed May Road near the former King’s Inn in Peru for a while, and Peru firefighters were called to help close North 35 th Road north of town in Dimmick Township due to two snapped utility poles and lines down.
La Salle County Sheriff’s Office said extra personnel were called in Sunday afternoon to help in the wake of the storms. A lot of debris on roadways was reported and needed to be cleared, and as of 12:30 p.m., deputies and crews were checking on people in the Dana and Rutland areas.
Near Wenona on Interstate 39, Lostant firefighters assisted the Wenona department after a semi rolled over during the wind storm. Lostant chief Andy Forrest said weather spotters from the department did not see a funnel cloud, and other than limbs down, there wasn’t much damage in the village.
Marshall County reported hazards on routes 17, 18 and 89 as the thunderstorm passed through, but by 12:50 p.m., debris had been removed from highways. No highway closures were reported there at the time. A deputy said Woodford County to the southeast had more severe damage than Marshall.
In the Lee County area on Interstate 39, emergency crews were helping drivers and with traffic control after five separate incidents in which wind blew over semis, mostly in the Interstate 88 area.
Washington, Ill., disaster
Live power lines were downed and neighborhoods damaged in Washington, Ill., where a tornado was reported “on the ground” and heading northeast at about 11:15 a.m. Washington dispatchers were calling for mutual aid from neighboring communities due to live electricity, home damage and “walking wounded” and reporting that the only type of communication they had available was police and fire radio.
Displaced residents were being shepherded to an undamaged shopping center as emergency crews continued to arrive in Washington. To the east, “Parsons” had a hazardous materials issue. By 1 p.m., doctors were arriving in Washington to set up a makeshift emergency room and triage for patients.
Peoria police and other emergency crews were rushing to Washington, while the storm that produced the tornado still was heading toward Rutland, Minonk and Streator. A weather spotter reported a tornado “on the ground” again around 11:40 a.m. near Rutland.
On the Web
Twitter feed from Washington, Ill. Horrifying amount of damage. https://twitter.com/search?q=washington+il&src=typd
Yahoo posted lots of photos, too: http://news.yahoo.com/tornado-peoria-illinois-180706906.html