Wind damage and power outages reported throughout the area
Kevin R. Jenkins, firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of moderate to heavy thunderstorms moved through the Parkland Wednesday night and continued into mid-morning Thursday, bringing with them damaging winds, torrential rainfall and dangerous lightning.
St. Francois County
Asked Thursday afternoon about the extent of damage from the storms in St. Francois and surrounding counties, Sheriff Dan Bullock said, “I’ll tell you what, it just kept coming and coming last night. We had a tremendous amount of tree damage, limbs down, trees down, damage to some houses and sheds and outbuildings, and a lot of electrical lines down.
“I think they said there were 18,000 people out of electricity, and they’re working on getting that back online as we speak. I know my electricity went off at 10:30 last night, and it’s still not back on as we speak.”
According to Bullock, emergency responders worked through the night clearing roadways and county roads, adding, “I know the cities are clearing the city streets now with all the lamps and downed electrical wires. They’ve got to get us back in line before this next one comes.”
Despite the ferociousness of the storms and rumors to the contrary, the sheriff affirmed that there were no serious injuries or fatalities related to this latest severe weather event.
“I’m not aware of any at all,” Bullock said. “We did go out on two different deaths, but they were both due to natural causes. It didn’t have anything to do with a storm. I know some people thought that it did, but it was not.”
Noting that this is the time of year when severe weather events often hit the state of Missouri, Bullock said, “We’ve been pretty lucky this past year, and we have been hit with a lot. People get a little lackadaisical about the storms, but the big thing is — and we had this happen this morning — people driving through the floodwaters.
“If you can’t see what’s underneath the water, don’t drive through it. We had this on 221 and several of the county roads this morning, where people were driving through high water. Luckily, we didn’t have any rescues, but we have had in the past, and it can happen.”
Maintaining that no area of the Parkland got hit worse than any other from the storms, Bullock said, “It seems like from north to south, we just got it all the way down through the whole county — and it looked like even down into Madison County — it was just a steady stream of thunderstorms all the way down and it kept up.”
With weather forecasts for the area predicting the chance of more storms moving through the Parkland through the end of next week, Bullock believes the best way to stay alive and uninjured is to always be aware of changing weather conditions.
“We want people to remain safe and get notified,” he said. “We had plenty of warning that a storm was coming. Get your family and go to a safe place. Have some extra water on hand. I know I’m on a well, and we’re out of water, so we have water on hand for drinking and for cleaning and things like that.
“It’s a good thing to have some non-perishable foods, some water, flashlights, batteries, a blanket or something like that, and take care of yourself till we can get there to help you.”
The City of Farmington released a statement late Thursday afternoon about the storm’s effect on the town and announced that power had been restored to hundreds of its power customers while reporting that hundreds more remained without electrical service due to the storms.
“This was an extremely powerful storm that passed through our area last night,” said Farmington Development Services Director Tim Porter. “As a result, we saw damage to trees and limbs that, in many cases, caused damage to electric lines and poles. We had widespread damage to some of our overhead main lines and some feeder lines.”
In addition, several streets throughout town were blocked by large, fallen trees. City street crews worked through the night Wednesday and all day on Thursday, along with the electric crews, but their efforts were hampered by dangerous weather conditions.
Porter added that the city electric crews and crews from a local powerline contractor would be working through the remainder of the afternoon to repair damaged lines and poles.
“We have enlisted the assistance of Power Line Consultants who specialize in the installation and repair of overhead powerlines,” he said. “This should help get power restored to all customers as quickly as possible. Some may be without power until as late as tomorrow afternoon.”
He mentioned that several citizens have contacted the city with concerns related to medical equipment that requires electricity to function.
“If you have a medical emergency, please call 911,” Porter said. “But if you need non-emergency assistance with medical equipment, you can call the non-emergency line at St. Francois County Central Dispatch, and they will connect you with the St. Francois County Ambulance District.”
The number is 573-431-3131.
As far as downed trees, large tree limbs brought down by the storm, Porter said, “At this time, we are prioritizing safety and cleanup of city streets. We will be evaluating the situation over the next few days and will determine if a limb pickup is needed.
“As always, city residents may use the yard waste disposal site on Pimville Road, located approximately one mile west of Bray Road, to dispose of limbs and yard waste.”
If shelter is needed, Porter said the Farmington Fire Station, located at 222 E. Columbia St. next to the police station, is available. For more information, contact the City of Farmington at 573-756-1701.