Montgomery County is cleaning up after tornadoes caused havoc in central Illinois late Saturday afternoon, Dec. 1.
The National Weather Service has yet to make a final assessment, but preliminary reports indicate that as many as four or five tornadoes could have touched down in Montgomery County with multiple additional funnel clouds sighted. As many as 12 tornadoes could have touched down in central Illinois with the most damage occurring in Taylorville. The National Weather Service expects to issue a final report on Tuesday.
In Montgomery County, two homes were destroyed, four more sustained major damage, and 18 others were damaged but habitable, according to Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Greg Nimmo, who worked with a team of ten on Sunday assessing damage for four hours.
Robert and Cathy Adams' residence between Butler and Lake Lou Yaeger was one of the two homes totally destroyed. The other, according to Nimmo, was a mobile home that was destroyed by a tree. Seventeen members of the Hillsboro Fire Department responded to the Adams home on Rocky Hollow Trail at 5 p.m. to shut off power to the destroyed structures on the property.
In addition, two commercial businesses sustained significant damage, both on Interstate 55 near the Route 108 overpass. Buildings at Kinney Contractors were completely destroyed, while the Magnuson Grand Hotel and Conference Center sustained roof and window damage.
Nimmo said damage assessment teams only concentrated on residential structures; multiple pole barns, sheds and grain bins were also destroyed or damaged.
So far, only one injury has been attributed to the storm. A driver on Interstate 55 pulled over to the shoulder and the vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle. Raymond-Harvel responded to that accident at 4:27 p.m. Nineteen fire department members remained on the interstate to help at the Magnuson Grand and Kinney Contractors, as well as for numerous downed power lines.
When weather alerts began at about 4:30 p.m., Nimmo opened an emergency operations center, staffed by ten to respond to the impending disaster. They remained on the job until about 9:30 p.m.
Reports of tornado damage begin southeast of Litchfield on Old Litchfield Trail, continue north on the east side of Lake Lou Yaeger, and run between Interstate 55 and Raymond. In addition to the tornado sightings, near-golfball sized hail was reported in Litchfield.
The Litchfield Fire Department responded to a report of a collapsed residence, possibly trapping inhabitants, on Old Quarry Trail and Rolland Lane at 4:34 p.m. The department responded with 18 firefighters and five pieces of equipment to find multiple trees blocking the roadway and multiple power lines down. Ultimately, everyone was safe and the fire department placed cones to warn of obstructions in the roadway until they were cleared.
Hillsboro firefighters also responded to North 7th Avenue at 4:25 p.m. where power lines were blocking the road, and to Rundquist Lane where a residence and outbuildings were damaged.
When Montgomery County EMA determined that damage in Christian County was worse, much of the local resources and manpower was diverted there, where 34 homes in Taylorville were completely destroyed and as many as 506 were damaged.
The Coffeen Fire Department sent a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) auxiliary light stand trailer, and the Witt Fire Department sent an MABAS ATV. The Nokomis Fire Department sent two pieces of equipment and six volunteers to search destroyed structures for those in need of assistance. The Montgomery County Hazmat team responded to Taylorville where a UPS truck containing a hazardous material package had rolled over on Route 48. Additionally, six ambulances from services in Montgomery County responded to Taylorville.
Phones at the Montgomery County Courthouse and Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro could be down for a few days because the Taylorville tornado damaged the New Wave switching equipment on which those telephones rely. The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office 217-532-9511 number and 911 service remains operational.