A nasty storm that killed three people in Missouri blew through Central Illinois overnight, downing trees, blowing cars into ditches, and producing at least one funnel cloud in far northeastern McLean County.
In Normal, Sue Smith was awoken by what she said was the loudest noise she had ever heard as she slept on her living room couch at her one-story rental home at 1317 S. Linden St. early Thursday morning.
“All of the sudden there was this loud bang, the house went dark and it felt like a tornado went through the house,” Smith said. “Me and my (three) dogs, we ran into the kitchen.”
Smith said she and her dogs are all OK as she marveled how a large tree had snapped in her front yard and slammed into the roof just a few feet above where she was sleeping.
GLT asked Smith how the roof could have stopped that tree from crashing through the home.
“I can tell you how, I have an angel on my front porch. I truly believe that angel protected me,” she said.
Smith explained she started collecting angel figurines after losing two identical twin boys to stillbirth nearly four decades ago. She wears a necklace that signifies her loss.
Now, two days short of her 60th birthday, the mother of three believes that small ceramic angel kept that large tree towering above it at bay.
“I feel that this is a sign,” she declared.
Smith acknowledged she was aware of storms in the area, but said he was tired so she went back to sleep. She said she learned her lesson.
“Don’t sleep through it, don’t be outside watching it, get yourself to a place of protection,” Smith said. “Even though this has no basement, sleeping on the couch in front of a picture window is not the best place to be during a storm.”
Smith said there’s no apparent interior damage to the home, which temporarily lost electricity after the storm. Power has since been restored.
FUNNEL CLOUD: Two people spotted a funnel cloud between midnight and 1 a.m. along U.S. 24 between Chenoa and Fairbury on the northeastern edge of McLean County, according to the National Weather Service.
DAMAGE REPORTS: The Bloomington Fire Department warned people to beware of downed and low-hanging wires around the city. The McLean County Highway Department closed two roads because of live powerlines being down: Shirley Road just east of Interstate 55, and Congerville Road northwest of Danvers. Vehicles were blown off Interstate 55 between Bloomington and Lincoln, NWS reported. There was also a report of 58 mph wind gusts at Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, NWS reported.
POWER OUTAGES: Ameren Illinois reported scattered power outages as of 9:45 a.m. Around 1,300 customers were without service in and around Lincoln and Atlanta, Ill.
ROAD CLOSURES !! Two locations are closed due to live powerlines being down. Please observe the barricades!
Shirley Rd, or 850 North Rd, between Funk Farm Rd, which is also 1100 East Rd, and 1200 East R
— McLean County IL (@McLeanCoIL) May 23, 2019
There is a marginal risk for severe thunderstorms late Thursday evening in central Illinois, mainly south of Interstate 74. The primary concerns are for damaging winds and large hail, NWS reported.
Fatalities in Missouri
Meanwhile, in Missouri the National Weather Service confirmed that the large and destructive tornado moved over Jefferson City shortly before midnight on Wednesday.
Gov. Mike Parson said three people died. Missouri Public Safety said they were killed in the Golden City area of Barton County. The governor is praising first responders who have worked through the night to free people from homes that have been ripped apart in the storm.
Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams says no deaths were reported in the capital, but 20 people have been rescued by emergency personnel.
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