A major storm system with conditions capable of producing a tornado hit the Vandalia area last Thursday night.
Winds were reportedly as high as 60 m.p.h. while some residents believed the winds were even stronger in different parts of the area.
Karen VanBoening, who lives just off Route F, two houses north of the Higwhway 154 intersection, was thankful she wasn’t home during the time of the storm.
She was in a car coming from Vandalia when a friend called her to tell her about the damage to her home.
“We knew the sirens went off (while we were in town),” VanBoening said. “We were just amazed (when we saw the damage). We’re thankful we weren’t home.”
A tree on the north side of her home split into two and fell on top of the northeast and northwest corners of her home.
The tree caused major damage to her roof, leaving a hole overtop of both her living room and an entrance to the downstairs.
Her home also suffered water damage and a wall is now caved in that is heading to her basement.
An insurance adjuster has since assessed the damage as her family remains in the home after putting up some tarps and moving items away from the affected areas.
The same storm system forced a train to derail about 1 1/2 miles outside of Laddonia. The Kansas City Southern’s 12-car train was traveling westbound on the tracks when the storm’s epicenter reportedly had winds in the area of 90-100 m.p.h.
Both a conductor and engineer sought shelter in the engine.
The storm flipped the last six empty cars over, causing a derailment and some damage to the tracks.
A clean-up crew was dispersed within two hours.
Audrain County Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw said the first concern he had before learning the cars were empty was what might have been in the cars when they overturned.
“They brought out excavators and a couple of big bulldozers to move and lift the cars,” Shaw noted.
The train remained in the area during the weekend so crews could work on repairing the tracks.
Meanwhile, Kansas City Southern had other trains use different routes and tracks to avoid the area.
Throughout the area were several reports of downed trees.
In Laddonia, two large trees were uprooted, leaving huge craters and crashing through an iron fence at the home of Monte and Glee Hanson.
The couple believes the fence was installed when the home was originally built in 1880.
Many Audrain County residents spent the next few days picking up debris in their yards.
During the night of the storm, tornado sirens went off after a cell coming from the Macon area made its way across Audrain County.
The Vandalia Leader’s General Manager/Editor Ron Schott was in Mexico at the time with his son Isaiah for a soccer camp.
Camp participants had already entered Mexico Junior High School to seek shelter from the lightning.
Coaches and players then went into the band room when the storm hit the location.
Meanwhile, the band room was also filled with many area residents who perform in a band, sitting as they were practicing.
“I instantly thought we were on the Titanic,” Schott joked, as it was known the band on the sunken ship continued to play as the ship was going down.
“Of course I waited to share my thoughts with the band members only when I knew the storm had passed.”