Clean up after Williamson County tornado damage

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Major cleanup happened Wednesday after a confirmed tornado hit Williamson County, Illinois. The tornado caused significant damage to local homes and businesses across southern Illinois.

A storm survey expert with the National Weather Service confirms a tornado went through Williamson County.

One property owner, Denise Lawrence, has no doubt a twister did destructive damage to the furniture renovation shop on her property in Energy, Ill.

"I saw tornadoes before and this definitely was a tornado," she recounted Tuesday night right before the storm. "I was watching the weather and the neighbor that lives back here in the townhouse called me and said there was a very loud boom sounded like an explosion."

Lawrence says with Route 148 blocked off for nearly a half mile, it took longer than expected to get a first-hand look at this damage.

There was broken glass, the roof was gone, the carpet was wet and much more.

"Well, of course, this was very devastating to me because this is my property and the people that rent here are very nice," Lawrence said. "And I hate that for them because they are having to leave the building."

Rick Shanklin is with the National Weather Service, and he says this was the worst damage he's seen so far.

"You have a roof structure removed that's happened here, that's certainly worse than any other damage we've seen which has been mostly tree damage to this point," Shanklin said.

The storm began in Carterville and traveled all the way to Galatia, and had a narrowed a defined path of damage. Leaving Energy to Marion, many of the trees had toppled over or had split. At Matt Basler's residence, a tree came crashing down on this garage.

"The one thing I keep thinking and that people keep telling me is that it could have been way worse," he said.

Looking around at the mess the tornado caused Basler took a moment to reflect on the positive side of the whole situation.

"They are just things, so you just carry on," Basler said. "Thank God nobody was hurt and you just rebuild and carry on."

Even Lawrence had the same sentiments. "I'm very thankful that everybody's safe.The family's safe. This is a building, it can be fixed, it can be put back"

Williamson County EMA officially recognizes the weather "event" as a disaster.

Dispatch activates the county's Emergency Operations Plan. There is no confirmation of the strength of the tornado.

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