'The storm came in very fast and all I could hear was the wind'
Oglesby resident Mark Ficek bought a chainsaw just in time.
After assessing Monday's storm damage, he wishes he purchased a bigger one.
Ficek, who owns property at 427 Columbia Ave. in Oglesby, said there was major damage to the back corner of the house, a large tree limb on the roof, all utility wires snapped and the cable knocked out. Limbs and branches covered the yard like a blanket.
“I was on my way home from work in Pontiac so I caught the tail end of everything on my way here,” said Ficek, who owns two other homes in the village, noting all his tenants were OK. “One of my other homes has eight to 10 trees down around it and shingles missing, but this home took the most damage. None of the damage penetrated the home, but there is major structural damage. With three different homes, I don’t even know where to start as far as insurance goes right now.
“I bought a chainsaw a couple weeks ago, now I wish I would have bought a bigger one.”
Ficek was not alone across Oglesby, La Salle and Peru.
Most of Oglesby appeared to be without power, attributed in part to downed power lines on Route 351. Columbia Lane was reduced to one lane by a downed line on the west side of the highway. A number of trees were uprooted at Memorial Park.
The other end of the city was no better. The Ed Hand Highway was impassable at the intersection with East Walnut Street. There, workers were spotted removing at least one tree blocking the roadway.
First responders assisted, not one, but two semi tractor-trailers that had blown over. One lay on its side on Mallick Road, a few yards north of the east entrance to Advantage Logistics. The second lay in a problematic spot at the off-ramp from Interstate 39 south bound, near the Oglesby spur where traffic lights were completely darkened.
In La Salle, Brian and Lorena Kelm, who live at 551 Eighth Street, had a huge chunk of tree in their front yard snap and it had to be moved from the street. A limb was covering a power line in the back of the house.
The tree that partially fell in front, coincidentally, was scheduled to be cut down. They had no significant damage to their home.
“I was at work, Pomp’s Tire Service, and my wife Lorena and our two children were here at home,” Brian said. “The storm hit there first and I called her and told her ‘it’s coming’ to get everyone in the basement.
“From what I could see from my work, I think there was rotation in the sky towards the north of us. I actually watched as part of the roof of Rural King tore off."
Lorena said she was with her children in the living room looking out the window to see if the storm was getting close.
“Five minutes later Brian called saying ‘get in the basement’," Lorena said. “I was like ‘what do you mean?' We were just looking out the window. The storm came in very fast and all I could hear was the wind.”
“We are all OK.”
The city of La Salle had workers out in force Monday night.
“La Salle city workers are working quickly to clear downed trees off of public roads," said Brent Bader, director of public relations and community development in La Salle. "At this time, we advise all residents to stay away from downed power lines as Ameren is aware of the power outages and is working to fix them. We ask all residents to use caution when traveling and have patience until roadways are clear and power is restored. We also want to appreciate everyone showing their La Salle spirit by working together following this storm’s damage.”
Downed power lines and/or tree limbs halted traffic on U.S. 6 near the House of Hunan restaurant and also forced diversions on Peoria Street near Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Chuck Studer, who lives at 734 26th St. in Peru, said a tree in his front yard split in half, damaging the soffit, also causing some damage to his neighbor's siding as well.
“I work at Illinois Valley Regional Airport and our wind meter hit about 70 mph before the power went out. However, the winds became much stronger after that,” Studer said. “One of the neighbors, who 'heard the crack' called my wife to let us know a tree was down in our yard.
“We luckily didn’t have that much damage, it looks worse than it is. The worst thing was losing the tree. We’ve talked to everyone up and down the street and everyone is OK, that’s the most important thing when things like this happens.”