A severe storm overnight Sunday night and Monday morning caused a tornado and straight line winds that blew down large trees destroyed a garage and other outbuildings and damaged homes across east Carthage and rural homes just east of town.
The word that an EF-1 tornado, packing winds of 90-100 miles per hour, confirmed the suspicions of Susan Ewing and Jane Nealy, who live in the area.
“We don't know for sure if it was an actual tornado or if it was high winds,” Ewing said prior to the National Weather Service's announcement. “My husband and son were in the garage looking at the weather and I was watching a movie until 11:30 or 12. The lights and everything went off, my husband and son came running in and the next thing I knew it started raining, we heard a crash on our house.”
Nealy said the damage around her home on 12th Street east of Palomino, felt like it might have come from a tornado.
Steve Runnels, with the National Weather Service Office in Springfield, said the pattern of damage to the trees east of Fairview and River streets, many of which were pushed over to the northeast and north, led them to believe it was caused by powerful straight line winds.
The damage pattern changed as the storm moved out to Palomino Road where there was much more twisting of the trees instead of pushing, indicating that an EF1 tornado had touched down briefly.
The good news — Carthage fire officials said there were no reports of injuries as a result of the storm.
Michelle Chacon, who lives with her husband and two children at 1292 S. Palomino, said she thought the roof of her two-story home was being torn off.
“We started hearing a severe wind so we went to get the kids using our phones as flashlights,” Chacon said. “By that time it sounded like the roof was coming off. It felt like the house was going to explode. I said God help us and we went running down the hall to the basement. We got down there and it was over that fast.”
Neighbors were helping neighbors, and families were coming together to cut up and remove the fallen tree limbs and clean up the destroyed outbuildings.
Chuck Bryant, electrical superintendent with Carthage Water & Electric Plant, said many of his crews have been working for two days, some with only about an hours sleep, to repair the damage.
He said at the height of the storm, CW&EP had about 800 customers without power.
That number was down to about 350 at about 5 p.m. Monday.
He said crews were working to repair main feeder lines, but many homeowners were going to have to hire an electrician to repair their meters and services closer to the home before their power could be turned back on.
Page 2 of 2 - In town
Neighbors were coming together to help neighbors along Wynwood Street between River Street and the Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix campus in east central Carthage.
Dozens of trees, some over 100 years old, were pushed over by straight line winds that ranged from 60 to 80 miles per hour, according to Meteorologist Runnels.
Judy Pittman, who lives at 823 Wynwood, said the hand of God must have been guiding the huge tree that fell in her backyard.
“The hand of God held this tree and set it between my house and another great big oak,” Pittman said. “It did hit the neighbors' guttering, but that's it. It could have moved forward and we would have lost all of our bedrooms, all of our dining room and kitchen. If this lands on my house it's going to go through it, but all it hit was our screened in porch.”
Katelynn Hunt, who lives in the home that was clipped by the Pittmans' tree, said she heard the storm approach.
“There was a big rush of wind and our tree fell down, then the neighbor's tree fell and went through their back porch and almost hit ours, it just missed it by an inch or two,” Hunt said. “Another neighbor's pine trees fell like dominoes in our back yard. It just sounded like a big crash. It was like a big rush of wind and a lot of thunder and lightning and a lot of rain. Then it was just all the trees falling. It all happened at once, all the trees hit at once so I don't know what I which tree was what.”