Crews survey storm damage

ALTO PASS, IL (KFVS) - The National Weather Service starts to survey storm damage as soon as the area is out of severe weather threat.

Wednesday and Thursday the NWS has four teams out looking at the damage: two in southern Illinois, one in Bollinger and Cape Girardeau counties, and one in Stoddard County.

Rick Shanklin with NWS says they look at the damage on structures from the storm. One of the teams in Southern Illinois looked at a home in Alto Pass that the storm ripped off entire sections of the roof.

Shanklin says from that, they can learn about the peak winds that caused that kind of damage.

"That's how we rate the tornadoes, we look at the peak wind from the damage, and kind of work backward, get the wind estimate from that, and then from that determine where that lies in the different EF scales. This tornado for example looks like it's the lower end of the EF 2 range," said Shanklin.

He says the number of deaths in a nighttime storm, is twice as many as a daytime storm. So, he says it's important to have alerts like a weather radio or cell phone text messages. He says to also let your friends and family know if you've heard of bad weather.

Shanklin describes what it's like to work with people whose property is destroyed.

"It's really something that's kind of sobering to do that and when you get engaged and involved with those folks, you can see how real the impact of severe weather are to those people that are affected especially ones that are injured or family members injured, and especially the ones that involve loss of life," said Shanklin.

Some people in the Alto Pass area say they're glad they only got the damage they did, and no one was hurt.

Bruce Jones cleaned up pieces of a structure belonging to his mom in Alto Pass Thursday. He said the high winds knocked it down. Jones said it brought back memories of his childhood sifting through the belongings, and he tried to salvage what he could.

"It's pretty devastating really, I had ties with Joplin, when they had their devastation out there, but it's one of those type of things, we've heard a lot of people say oh it happened out there, but it will probably never happen here, but guess what, it happened here," said Jones. "It's pretty devastating, and the loss of life is pretty traumatic, but just thankful in this area some structural damage, but nothing that can't be replaced or repaired."

Shanklin and Jones both said they worked quickly to try to finish their work before the next round of storms come in.

"A complicating factor if we don't do that, aside from accumulating work load is the fact that you can have the damage from one storm system and then the next storm system, in this case a couple days later in some cases those might intersect and that can just complicate the ability to do the storm surveying as quickly and as accurately," said Shanklin.

"We're trying to beat the second one that's supposed to be coming in tomorrow, but it's not that bad, we're probably half to two thirds through it now, we're in good shape," said Jones. "The structure's not in too good of shape, but we're in good shape."

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.