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NWS reports EF1 tornado struck West Frankfort Sunday night

Published: Dec. 5, 2021 at 11:45 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:49 PM CST
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WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. (KFVS) - The National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado traveled through West Frankfort on Sunday night, December 5.

Earlier on Monday, they said a survey team found evidence of a tornado in West Frankfort from Sunday night’s storms.

According to the preliminary report, it had estimated peak winds at 95 miles per hour with a path length of 4.6 miles and a path width of 175 yards.

They ask that you report any damage to them online.

According to the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency on its Facebook page, damage assessments ended for the day on Monday just before 4 p.m.

They said their preliminary data of the damage showed the path of the tornado was mostly north of State Highway 149, extending from just west of West Frankfort in a northeast direction out to around Deering Road.

Damage assessment operations have concluded for the day in West Frankfort. We will continue to add additional data as it...

Posted by Franklin County Emergency Management Agency on Monday, December 6, 2021

According to EMAS Director Ryan Buckingham, the damages and outages are on the west side of West Frankfort near Ken Gray Boulevard, extending into the city.

No injuries have been reported so far; however, several homes have been affected by downed trees and wind damage.

One West Frankfort resident said it all happened quickly.

“I have a basement, but it was upon so quickly that we didn’t have time to get in the basement, and there were things flying around, so I thought, literally, my house was going to go,” Belinda Smith said. “I didn’t know what was hitting my house, but it was very, very scary; and we lost our power, it was dark, I couldn’t see what was going on. Lots of lightning. Lots of lightning.”

St. Louis Street was closed between Logan and Douglas Streets because crews were working on utility poles and downed trees blocked the roadway.

Damage was also reported on Sixth St. between Jefferson and Jackson Streets and Fifth St. between Park Hill and Gardener Streets.

Just before 1 a.m. all seven-digit, non-emergency phone lines at the West Frankfort Police Department were restored. Their 911 service was never affected.

First responders asked the public not to call emergency services unless it is urgent and 911 should be used for emergencies only.

Utility services were affected and downed trees and power lines can be expected in the southern portion of Franklin County.

EMA said locations without power should be prepared for an extended outage, but power crews are quickly making repairs. We’re told power should be back on for everyone some time Monday evening.

As of 8:45 a.m. on Monday, Ameren Illinois reported 435 customers were without power in Franklin County. At one time, more than 1,700 were without electricity.

One resident said he’s glad that situations like this work to bring the community together.

“Lot of people don’t really care about each other until stuff like this happens, but at least they still care,” said Stetson Ellis, who helped with cleanup.

The public is asked to stay clear of the affected areas.

An area command center has been established in West Frankfort as emergency services continue to assess damage to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure.

A tornado warning had been issued for Franklin County when storms moved through the Heartland Sunday night.

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