Tornadoes hit Williamson, Saline, Massac counties Tuesday; disaster declared in Williamson

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MARION — Williamson County officials on Wednesday confirmed a tornado touched down Tuesday night, causing significant damage to homes and businesses.

Deputy Brian Murrah of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office saw trees and power lines down as he worked Tuesday evening. He said some areas of the county sustained damage to structures, including in Energy, several structures in Whiteash, a couple in the Crenshaw area and a few on the north edge of Pittsburg.

No injuries or fatalities were reported. Williamson County Board chair Jim Marlow signed a disaster declaration Wednesday morning, activating the county’s emergency operations plan.

According to a news release from the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency, several disaster response efforts are ongoing:

The Williamson and Franklin county EMAs are conducting detailed field damage assessment of residential and business structures that were affected;
The National Weather Service is doing detailed assessment to determine the path and strength of the tornado; and
The American Red Cross has deployed staff to aid in recovery efforts.
The Home Depot in Marion has also donated supplies to assist residents.

A tornado also struck Saline County, but Allan Ninness, director of the Saline County Emergency Mangement Agency, said he did not foresee needing a disaster declaration for damage in the county. On Wednesday afternoon, Ninness was assisting a team from National Weather Service that was working to determine an EF rating for the tornado.

“Right now we are looking at four homes destroyed, possibly 25 homes that have damage and seven businesses with damage. Most of those businesses are farm-related,” Ninness said.

He had no reports of injuries, except a few bumps and bruises.

“No person that I know of has sought medical treatment. It’s a very trying event,” he added.

The damage in Saline County is near the village of Harco, along Johnston City Road. Ninness added that most of the homes have Galatia addresses. Also, some damage was located east of Galatia and north of Raleigh.

The suspected tornado damaged property along a 10.5-mile path through the county.

“We are getting help from neighboring agencies and mutual aid agencies. We are trying to offer people ‘neighborly help,’” Ninness said. “We are doing our best to help our neighbors; that’s what we always do.”

Chief Deputy Ken Clore of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office said there was a lot of damage to outbuildings and storage buildings, along with damage to trees and downed power lines.

“I think the power company got a lot of the power on really quickly last night, but I’m sure there are some areas still without power.”

By 4 p.m., Ameren reported two customers in Saline County with outages. Southeastern Illinois Cooperative did not have any outages.

The National Weather Service issued a statement confirming an EF0 tornado touched down one mile north of Metropolis at 6:29 p.m. Tuesday.

“Numerous buildings with shingle damage were seen as well as large trees and limbs down with Bradford Pear trees snapped,” the statement reads.

by Marilyn Halstead, The Southern
Apr 4, 2018 Updated Apr 5, 2018

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Kyrie Wagner