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County escapes tornado’s fury

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 3:23 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 3:24 p.m. CDT
Caption
(BCR photo/Becky Kramer)
A sign at the Pilot Travel Center on Princeton's North Main Street was victim to the strong winds that hit the area Sunday. The sign blew over and landed on a nearby semi.

PRINCETON — Trained emergency personnel from Bureau County are on their way to the Washington, Ill., area to assist with recovery efforts after the area was devastated Sunday afternoon by a tornado.

On Monday, Bureau County Red Cross Director Lori Compton said trained disaster volunteer Mike Hellberg from Princeton was headed to the Washington area on Monday morning to help with the Red Cross’ disaster assessment work. Bureau County’s emergency response vehicles and personnel have also been alerted and are ready to go if needed, she said.

As always, there will be financial needs in that disaster recovery effort, and donations are always much appreciated, Compton said.

Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson has announced Commander James Shipp and technical support specialists Adam Rabe and Adam Lind have been called to the Washington scene as a result of the “tragic tornado damage in central Illinois.” These men and the Bureau County Sheriff’s command and communications vehicle will be utilized in the recovery efforts, Thompson said.

On Monday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared seven Illinois counties as disaster areas following Sunday’s storms which ripped throughout the state. Those counties include Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford.

At least six people were killed in Sunday’s storms and dozens others injured. Hundreds of businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed, with tens of thousands of residents losing electric power.

Locally, storm damage was more limited, though the Road Ranger truck stop sign did fall onto a parked truck in Princeton. Also, as posted on Facebook, an old barn was blown down on a farm north of Sheffield. The Princeton Water Treatment Plant recorded 1.18 inches of rainfall on Sunday.

On Monday, Bureau County Emergency Services Disaster Agency coordinator Kris Donarski said her office was activated to the Bureau County Courthouse in Princeton on Sunday, as it does whenever there are severe storms in the area. Local weather spotters were out and monitoring area conditions. Bureau County was very fortunate and did escape the brunt of the storms, though there were some high wind gusts in the area, Donarski said.

In light of Sunday’s tornadoes in the Washington area, Donarski said residents need to be reminded that tornadoes can happen in any month of the year. People need to monitor the weather through their local media and should also have a NOAA weather radio in their homes, she said.

According to WQAD meteorologist James Zahara, an estimated 80 tornado touchdowns were reported on Sunday in the Midwest. Once the National Weather Service survey is completed for the state, it will likely lead to the largest number of tornadoes ever recorded in the month of November, Zahara said.

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