Mt. Vernon Register-News


May 8, 2009

NWS calls Friday storm 'an inland hurricane'

Staff and Wire Report

A severe weather event narrowly missed the area on Friday, as a severe storm caused major damage in Williamson and Jackson counties.

According to The Associated Press, thunderstorms packing 100-mph winds and spawning funnel clouds ransacked Southern Illinois Friday, snapping trees, peeling siding off homes and leaving thousands without power, emergency officials said.

In Marion, Mayor Robert Butler surveyed the damage to his town and declared a 7 p.m. curfew, according to the Marion Daily Republican. Williamson County officials declared a 9 p.m. curfew for the rest of the county.

The Marion newspaper reported Friday evening that National Weather Service officials referred to Friday’s storm as “an inland hurricane.”

According to the Ameren IP Web site, 64,433 customers in Southern Illinois were without power as of 7 p.m. Friday evening. Ameren reported 95 percent of Gallatin and Williamson counties were without electricity, while 87 percent of Jackson County and 49 percent of Franklin County were without power.

The power company reported five customers in Jefferson County sustained power outages, though it was unclear if those outages were related to Friday’s storm.

Williamson and Jackson County officials urged residents to stay at home to make room for cleanup of roads, with several towns declaring curfews for the repair work.

A truck driver who had to be extricated from an overturned semitrailer was in serious condition after a “major trauma,” said Rosslynd Rice, a spokeswoman for Southern Illinois Healthcare.

About six other patients with minor injuries were being treated at the Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, she said.

“It tore the [heck] out of things,” said Calvin Brown at the Cherry Street Pub in Herrin. “It was wicked. I haven’t seen that in a long time.”

Winds blew out car windows, Brown said. It tore roofing from buildings and separated the fiberglass from the pub’s sign.

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