Trees, power suffer in recent storm

Photo by Paula Earls.

Big trees were no match against big winds early Wednesday morning, as a storm system tore through Mid-Missouri.

“As far as we’re concerned, everything that happened out there was straight line wind damage,” Ben Miller, a meteorologist at the St. Louis National Weather Service office in St. Charles, said Wednesday evening. “It was just an upper-level system interacting with warm, humid, unstable air.

“It’s not uncommon — this is prime time for it in April, May and June.”

Those winds reached speeds of 50-60 mph, Miller said — strong, but not strong enough to meet the Weather Service guidelines for a “severe” thunderstorm.

The biggest damage report came from Prairie Home in Cooper County, where the elementary school lost its roof, a church lost some windows and many trees and fences were damaged or destroyed in a three-mile stretch.

Wednesday morning, Superintendent Steven Barnes was at the end of a long dark hallway at the Prairie Home elementary school, sweeping water out the back door.

“I got a call around 4:45 a.m. to inform me of the situation,” Barnes said. “The microburst took the entire roof off the elementary.

“We have very extensive damage on this end of the complex. Fortunately, the new wing has no damage.”

Barnes said the community, and Prairie Home District staff, were assisting with the cleanup — moving items before they were damaged and trying to get a roof over the exposed building before more rains came.

Other men were cleaning up glass at the Prairie Home United Methodist Church yard. They felt fortunate to only have a ripple in the siding and a couple windows blown out.

The stained-glass windows all were intact.

Residents who lived only a couple blocks from the church said they never heard a thing.

Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz said there were scattered reports of damage in the southern part of the county, including the Wardsville area, but the biggest impact was around Russellville — where four big trees were knocked over.

“It must have been a microburst that went through there,” Benz speculated.

Otherwise, there was “nothing major, nothing real big” to report from the county, Benz said, and no damage was reported about county-maintained roads or property.

Some tree limbs were down, but no major damage was reported inside Jefferson City.

Boone County suffered more damage — especially the further north one went.

Spokesman Mike Flanagan said the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter volunteers and staff responded to several assistance calls in and near Columbia, including a fire in a four-unit condominium and damaged mobile homes in the southern part of the city.

Red Cross volunteers also were called to assist people in Moniteau and Saline counties, Flanagan said.

Mike Glascock, Southern District superintendent for the Boone County Public Works department, told the News Tribune Wednesday: “We had a huge number of trees down.

“We got the roads passable by about 9 o’clock, and now we are in clean-up mode — just trying to get the brush picked up that we, basically, pushed out of the roads to let traffic through.”

Calling the storm damage “pretty significant,” Glascock predicted “it’s going to take awhile” to get things back to normal.

Glascock said he saw some buildings that had lost their roofs or, at least, some shingles.

“I saw one partially collapsed,” he said. “Mostly, it was machine shed type buildings, or garages. But it’s mostly just tree damage.”

But no homes were damaged, he said.

In Columbia, rescuers were shocked that a man survived being pinned to his bed by a tree and a power pole that fell onto his home during a powerful storm.

Cheston Fox was trapped from the waist down but remained conscious after the pole and the tree crashed into his mobile home around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Teams from the Columbia Fire Department and the Boone County Fire Protection took about an hour to rescue Fox. He says the crews cut the bottom out of his trailer and took his bed apart to extricate him.

Versailles officials also reported fallen trees in the City Park and in residential areas, and the winds broke the traffic signal at the intersection of Missouri highways 5 and 52.

Rick Bias, director of Morgan County’s 911/Addressing director, said the signal was repaired quickly.

Several area electric cooperatives sent crews into the field to find and repair damaged lines and restore power where it was knocked out.

An Ameren Missouri spokesman said the company had some minor damage in Mid-Missouri, with more serious damage and outages in the Franklin County area just west of St. Louis.

More showers and thunderstorms could occur today and Friday, Miller said.

Some information provided by the Associated Press.

Earlier coverage:

Microburst takes Prairie Home school roof

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