WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Cleaning Up from Western Illinois Storms

Mar 16, 2016

Patty and Carl Sloan managed to escape injury Tuesday evening by reaching the basement of their home outside Avon just as a powerful storm hit.

“Shaky.  Sad.  But we’re alive, that’s the most important thing,” Patty Sloan said as she surveyed the damage Wednesday.

The Sloans built the home in 1993.  Now it will require significant repairs, and their property as a whole sustained damage.  Portions of the roof and walls of the house were blown away, windows were shattered, a garage was ripped apart and destroyed, and a bridge over a creek on the property is now tangled among the downed trees on their land.

Debris piled up in the driveway of the Sloan residence just outside of Avon.
Credit T.J. Carson

Patty said the cleanup began almost immediately after the storms left, with neighbors helping out.

“The community came out and helped a lot,” Patty Sloan said.  “We have farmers, and we’ve had people that’s offered two homes for us to stay, because we’re going to need some place to live.  The community is great.”

The same scene played out in McDonough County, where people are cleaning up after a confirmed tornado touched down near Good Hope.

“We were there in very short order. In a lot of places the neighbors had already checked on their neighbors,” said Sheriff Rick Van Brooker.

“A lot of resources came out of the woodwork to help people in typical McDonough County fashion.  Neighbors watching out for neighbors.”

Van Brooker said the tornado headed directly toward Walnut Grove, then went back into the clouds somewhere around Walnut Grove.

The sheriff said a handful of homes sustained damage, several outbuildings were destroyed, and the roof was damaged on West Prairie North Elementary School in Good Hope.

But no one was injured.

A car is buried under debris from a destroyed garage outside of Avon.
Credit T.J. Carson

Dr. Tom Williams, Meteorology Professor at Western Illinois University, said it appeared there were initially two storms.

“There was the storm in front that had come up from Bowen, Carthage, and dropped some pretty good size hail in Tennessee.  And a second storm that was further behind it,” Williams said. “And one of the stranger things I’ve seen – all of a sudden it’s like those two storms just merged very suddenly.”

He said the storms quickly developed into a large, rotating wall cloud that “went into beast mode.”

Williams is a storm chaser who’s drive hundreds of miles to chase tornadoes. He said this time he was able to stay in the Macomb area and wait for the storms to come to him.