Monday, March 27

Storm damage estimated at $9 million

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[MARCH 27, 2006]  Estimates of damage caused by thunderstorms and tornadic winds in Logan County on the evening of March 12 are at $9 million. The cleanup exceeds the resources of the county and has led officials to file a disaster declaration in hopes of receiving state and federal assistance.

Following a local resolution signed by county board chair Bob Farmer and Logan County Emergency Management Agency committee chairman Dick Logan that declared Logan County a disaster area, Logan County EMA director Dan Fulscher submitted the paperwork asking for state and federal assistance.

The disaster and emergency time period to recover was first set at seven days, but damage was so extensive that the time was extended to 30 days

The local declaration led to a state response, which permitted the use of state resources, such as from the Illinois Department of Transportation and Department of Corrections, but still no money, Fulscher said.

"We're hoping for a federal declaration," he said. If we are able to get a presidential declaration, then there would be $100,000 made available for cleanup. This would be the county's third application for a presidential. We've had one on a flood and one on snow removal, but we have never had one on a tornado before, Fulscher said.

If we receive a gubernatorial declaration, the cost will be borne by the people who are out there right now; the utilities, the townships and IDOT would be able to continue to help us. Also, any public entity that had added costs on that night, such as overtime by the sheriff's department, would get reimbursement.

The most heavily struck area was in southern Logan County, just south of Mount Pulaski and in and around Latham. What was later determined by the National Weather Service to be an F-2 tornado destroyed or damaged homes, outbuildings, public utilities and infrastructure.

The count:

  • Over 65 homes and farm complexes affected

  • One farm business

  • A cemetery

  • Over 60 outbuildings destroyed

  • Over 200 trees destroyed

  • An 800-foot communications tower (not in use) destroyed.

  • Eight of the monster-sized electrical towers that carry 380,000-volt lines destroyed

The electrical towers cost $400,000 each in material, not including labor. Each one of those structures takes up to three days to construct.

The lines affected carry power from Pontiac.

Four power companies suffered damage in the 10-by-6-mile area.

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The next major step in the cleanup effort will take place on Tuesday. Dump trucks from the county, the city of Mount Pulaski and other townships will assemble at 7:45 a.m. at Cross Brothers. The trucks will go out to collect trees and debris.

The volunteer day March 18 had a great response. Seventy-five people showed up and more than 10 pieces of equipment. New state regulations do not allow government to go on private property for cleanup. The volunteers were able to help property owners clear 44 trees on that day, Fulscher said. "It was just amazing what they did for individuals that just didn't have the wherewithal to take care of that," he said.

Cleanup was stymied a few days later. Only in Logan County can you have two tornadoes go through and eight days later we have a blizzard, Fulscher said. March 20 and 21 saw high winds. Freezing rain, sleet and heavy, blowing snow struck the area and slowed travel throughout the region.

Fulscher said thanks to the storm spotters, 911 dispatch, all the emergency agencies that helped, the National Weather Service, Channel 20 and Channel 17. He said a gentleman said he heard his voice on the TV, recognized it and went straight to the basement just in time. He said that Sheriff Steve Nichols went with him "personally" the next day to every home the next day to make sure people were OK.

Fulscher also thanked the county board for all the support over the years that allowed the right communications equipment to be in place. "I truly believe we saved some people from very serious damage, if not their lives," he said.

If anyone knows of anyone who needs help with the damage, they should contact the Logan County EMA office, (217) 732-9491.

Storm-related building permits

The county found one additional way to help storm victims. Anyone with storm damage who needs a building permit will have permit fees waived for 90 days from the date of the storm, planning and zoning chairman Dale Voyles said. The offer stands for anyone needing to repair, redo or upgrade after the storm. They can come into the zoning office through the first week of June. The county needs to keep a record, so you do need to get a permit, but there will be "no charge," he said.

[Jan Youngquist]


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