Byler said there was little time to react to the storm’s path.
“If we would’ve seen it earlier we would’ve had plenty of time to go to a neighbor’s basement. We live about one-quarter of a mile away, and my wife saw it coming directly for us a couple of miles away, and then it turned over here by the interstate. There was not much time to react,” Byler said.
EMA Director Steve Lueker, who was the assistant director a year ago, said the agency played a major role in tracking the storm.
“Part of our role is to help prepare the community, to make information available to the public, and we do that through our website and other means, especially through the media,” Lueker said. “We did play a part in that we took some watcher positions when we knew the storm was coming. It helped alleviate some of the burden off the fire department and law enforcement.’
Lueker said although there was major damage and one fatality, the aftermath could’ve been much worse.
“I believe us to be very fortunate when you look at the family that lives directly across the road and the damage to parts of their home. You could’ve seen that family severely hurt or killed, and the schoolhouse that was adjacent to the property with all of those children inside, it could’ve been a real travesty,” he said.
In addition to the fatality, two people reported injuries of contusions and bruising. They were treated at the scene, according to Sheriff Roger Mulch.
According to the NWS, the tornado began about 5 1/2 miles southeast of Mt. Vernon or just northwest of Opdyke and south of Interstate 64. The tornado lifted about five miles east of Mt. Vernon, just southeast of Liberty and North Lighthouse roads. The average path width of the storm was 100 yards and the path length was approximately 2 1/2 miles.
The storm hit Perry and Franklin counties, spawning a tornado in DuQuoin, before heading northeast into Jefferson County.