Homes Blown Off Foundations, Trees Snapped Off by Sunday Tornado


Published on November 18 2013 12:47 pm
Last Updated on November 19 2013 7:58 am
Written by Greg Sapp

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Homes were lifted off their foundations and large trees were snapped off like matchsticks by Sunday's tornado that wreaked havoc on our area.  Thankfully, no one was injured.

Wayne Moran and Greg Sapp traveled through the area Monday morning to survey the damage. We have a full image gallery from what we saw, located here. You can also view a high-resolution photo gallery on our Facebook page, located here.

The twister followed a path from west of St. Elmo to near Beecher City early Sunday afternoon.  In the open area west of St. Elmo and just north of US Route 40, the home of Rusty Booher was lifted up and set down at an angle on its foundation, resulting in significant damage.  No one was at home at the time.  Across the road to the east, though, Ina Abendroth was laying down in a bedroom when the twister hit.  Her son, Paul, said his mother was in the only room in the house where the window was not broken out and she escaped unharmed.  The roof was taken off the house and the walls on the east side of the home were coming apart.


The home of Rusty Booher was spun on its foundation and the front of the house was torn off

The storm traveled northeast, inflicting damage to tall trees in the front yard of Jason and Jill Hill. One tree fell on and destroyed a car sitting south of the house.  However, damage to the house was relatively minor as a small length of guttering will need replaced.  The Hills' home is located north of St. Elmo along the St. Elmo blacktop.

The storm went south of St. Elmo Golf Club, doing significant damage to the homes of Mark and Jennieanne Heischmidt and Dee Newberry.  Mark Heischmidt said he got home just before the twister struck and he and his wife escaped injury.  Jennieanne and the family dog, Shakespeare, had just headed for the basement when Mark got home.

As for the Newberrys, a three-car garage is missing along with a carport that covered their camping trailer.  Much of the Newberry debris ended up on or near the Heischmidts property to the east.


The location where Dee Newberry's 3-car garage sat before it was pulled away by the twister

In the area south and west of Beecher City, the tornado damaged the homes of Paula and Dennis Ledbetter and Jenny and Kenny Warner.  The Ledbetters had damage to their mobile home and to children's play equipment out in the yard.  The Warners had more significant damage to their home just east of the Ledbetters, including portions of their roof.  The Ledbetters stayed in their home Sunday night, but the Warners stayed elsewhere.

Statewide, Governor Quinn is surveying some of the worst of the damage done statewide.  Quinn is inspecting damage in Washington, Diamond, Gifford, Brookport and New Minden.  He said the storm damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.  Six people have died and dozens more were injured.  Quinn says the State will do everything necessary to help these communities recover.  So far, seven counties have been declared disaster areas.  That will make state resources available to those counties as they recover from Sunday's storms.  The State has also sent technical rescue teams to some of the impacted towns.

Tree damage at Jason and Jill Hill's residence north of St. Elmo

The National Weather Service in Lincoln is going to look at damage from Sunday's tornadoes. They're sending out two survey crews today.  One crew will look at the eastern Peoria metro area. The other will look at damage in Champaign and Vermilion Counties.  The crews will use their information to determine the intensity of the tornadoes that touched down on Sunday.

Relief efforts are already underway in some of the areas hit hardest by yesterday's tornadoes. The Red Cross has been looking at damage in Washington.  The Red Cross' Karen Stecker says the damage there is almost unbelievable.  Preliminary estimates show that it was an EF-3 tornado that struck the town.  The tornado leveled a number of homes in the town.  Statewide, at least six people were killed in the storms yesterday.

As the town of Washington, Illinois tries to pick up the pieces from yesterday's tornado, the town's mayor said it looks like a war zone.  A tornado destroyed a number of homes in the town.  It also killed one person and injured dozens of others.  Authorities say most of the injuries were minor. The tornado touched down just after 11:00 Sunday morning.  Mayor Gary Manier says there were some parts of town so devastated, he couldn't tell what street he was on.

Ameren Illinois says they're still working to restore power statewide.  At the peak of the damage, nearly 150,000 people lost power.  Ameren says they got that number down to about 29,000 early Monday morning.  Most of the power will be restored today or tonight, but Ameren says it will take longer for other parts of the state.  It could take until the end of the day Tuesday before power is restored in East Peoria, and lights won't come back on for Eureka, Roanoke and Washington until late Wednesday.