By Mandi Kindheart-White
Northeast Missouri experienced some severe storms, which stretched more that 10 miles wide on July 9 at approximately 10:30 p.m. Ralls County Electric Cooperative announced lost power to about 2,500 of its members—extending from Lake Hannibal to Perry. RCEC brought in crews from across the state, with nearly 70 people working 16-hour shifts to help restore power.
Although there are no confirmed tornados, those who experienced the storm’s power describe violent winds, vibrating structures and squeaking window pressure as they took shelter. Maximum wind speeds of 60-80 mph were recorded at most locations, with isolated areas experiencing near 90 mph bursts.
Electricity had been disrupted for several days, as crews continue to work around the clock to restore everyone’s power. By July 12, RCEC reported at the end of their work day that there were still 100 members without power, but their crews would continue to repair poles and lines as quickly as possible.
Utility lines were broken, including a quarter-mile stretch on Route W near Monroe City, where poles seemed to have a domino effect as they fell bringing down power lines. Route W remained closed until the late evening hours on July 11.
Perry seemed to be the hardest hit, with broken windows, collapsed building walls, roof damage and uprooted trees. On Saturday, July 10, those driving through town could see areas of destruction on every block. Residents and volunteers were out working fervently to repair and restore their properties, some using chainsaws and heavy equipment to remove trees, limbs and debris.
Despite the size of the storm, there was no report of injuries. Businesses suffered massive damage, including the Blackjack Marina, which estimates damage at about $1 million.
Also damage were campgrounds, including campsites with campers and trailers flipped over.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that because of the storms, the Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds are closed at least until Sunday, July 18. Additional delays in openings are expected past this date. Storm debris, as well as a lack of power, is slowing the reopening of the campgrounds. The area is currently being evaluated.
Because of the heavy rains from Friday’s storm, the level of Mark Twain Lake has risen approximately 3 feet since Saturday morning. The lake level as of 10 a.m. Monday, July 11 is 626.92 feet and rising at a rate of about a foot a day. The Corps is releasing water from the lake, and if the area receives no more rain, it’s believed the lake will top out near 630 feet. Many smaller ramps and all three beaches are currently closed. However, boaters can still access the lake by way of high water ramps at Stoutsville Rec Area, Spalding Rec Area, Indian Creek Rec Area, Robert Allen Rec Area.