Parts of S. Illinois feel brunt of storms; 3 deaths reported


(Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

Joker Young, of Carbondale, surveys Oren Coffer’s horse and cattle farm as he detangles strands of hay from a wire fence Wednesday, March 1, 2017, while helping Coffer rebuild his property after Tuesday’s tornado off Elkville Road in Vergennes. The tornado levelled Coffer’s 101-year-old barn and numerous other structures on his property. “It’s a miracle,” Coffer said. “Looking at this place, with all the damage, it’s a miracle nobody was hurt.”

Some parts of Southern Illinois were cleaning up Wednesday morning after strong storms moved through the area Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning.

One of the hardest-hit areas appeared to be in Randolph County, where many residents were still without power on Wednesday morning. The area is just across the Mississippi River from Perry County, Mo., which is about 80 miles south of St. Louis.

One person was killed when an apparent tornado moved through the Perry County area. Eight to 10 homes near the small town of Perryville, Mo., were badly damaged and winds were so strong that several vehicles were blown off Interstate 55. Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz said search-and-rescue crews were going door-to-door and checking the highway to see if there were other victims.


There were no fatalities reported in Randolph County, but there was some property damage, according to the Randolph County Herald-Tribune. The newspaper reported that the village of Rockwood, which has a population of 42 and is located on Illinois 3, had been hit by what could have been a tornado. Power poles were snapped and some outbuildings were damaged.

“It appears to be a tornado, but I can’t say for sure,” Randolph County Sheriff Shannon Wolff told the newspaper. “There are multiple power lines down.”

Residents there were among the nearly 4,000 in the county who woke up without power on Wednesday, according to an Ameren Illinois outage map.

Ameren Illinois activated its Emergency Operations Center at 3 p.m. Tuesday to coordinate response efforts throughout the state. Power had been restored to more than 22,330 customers since 5 p.m. Tuesday, Ameren said.

An Ameren news release said customers in Sparta and Belleville in Southern Illinois and LaSalle and Ottawa in northern Illinois were the most affected, with at least 125 power poles down in those areas. The Ameren outage map showed that power was restored to all of its Sparta customers and all but 12 Belleville customers by 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Farther south in Jackson County there were reports of minor injuries and damaged homes between Ava and Elkville, according to the Southern Illinoisan. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department confirmed damage to at least five homes with one that was destroyed. Trees and power lines were knocked down throughout the northern part of Jackson County, the paper reported.

Areas in northern Illinois also were affected by the storms, which happened on an unseasonably warm February day. At Ottawa, Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said a person was killed by an uprooted tree. Minor injuries were also reported at an Ottawa nursing home, but Thompson said the number of those hurt in the twisters was not known.


Also, White County Coroner Chris Marsh said Wednesday that the storm system spawned a twister that struck a small building near a house in the Crossville area, which is in southeastern Illinois near the border with Indiana. It killed a 71-year-old man and injured his wife.

Ameren was sending more than 180 field and support personnel to assist with restorations efforts in LaSalle County. Ameren said it had people available to assist in the Carbondale area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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