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  • Fairbury News staff

Towns damaged by storm

An overturned recreational vehicle is shown in Chatsworth Sunday morning.

Bill Bolton has experienced his share of hurricanes and tropical storms living in Florida but nothing quite compares to what happened Saturday afternoon at his mother-in-law’s home in Chatsworth.

He was visiting family in Central Illinois when a suspected tornado damaged buildings, trees and other structures in the southeastern portion of town.

“I could hear what sounded like rolling thunder,” Bolton recalled. “It just got louder and louder and I could hear stuff popping.”

Bolton and his daughter, Kate, were outside when a county deputy came by and urged them to take shelter as a bad storm was approaching. Bolton told Kate to get in the house and he hit the garage door button as tree branches were already coming in the garage when the door was closing.

“We came in really quick and by that time, she was already scared so we just dropped right here,” Bolton said while pointing to the dining room floor.

Bolton’s mother-in-law, Jackie Dohman, was grocery shopping in Fairbury at the time.

“I said to my daughter, call home. She called home and Bill was going, ‘Oh my God, we were hit by a tornado,’” explained Dohman.

A nearby truck topper blew away knocking a trailer down and pieces of a fence were blown into a swimming pool. Dohman’s family members were raking up storm debris in the yard Sunday morning.

Other damage in Chatsworth occurred near the school, where pieces of playground equipment were scattered across the grass and a fence was twisted in different places. One garage was completely destroyed by the storm which also damaged some roofs and tipped over a recreational vehicle.

Chatsworth Mayor Richard Runyon called the storm a “sad affair” as it occurred during the town’s annual Heritage Days celebration – forcing the cancellation of an afternoon parade and other festivities. Many of the parade floats were parked near the downtown area in the evening as local residents gathered at Rick and Anita’s bar. Runyon said there were no immediate plans to hold another parade, although a holiday parade will be held later in the year and the town will plan to hold the regular Heritage Days parade next year.

In Strawn, a large tree fell across Ebersol Street in Strawn, landing on someone’s truck.

“We reached out through social media and different neighbors to come together to see if we could get the tree cut up and hauled away this morning,” said Strawn mayor Gena Vernon.

The man was home when the damage occurred to the truck and almost 20 people gathered the next morning to help clean things up. Those helping were offered lunch at the Strawn pavilion afterwards. Vernon heard straight line winds could be to blame for the damage in her town.

“It is a wonderful community here,” Vernon observed. “Everybody is great about helping.”

There were no official reports of injuries in either town on Saturday.

Fairbury was spared from any wind damage but plenty of rain fell over the past few days, flooding ditches and Indian Creek. The golf course was underwater as levels continued to rise over the weekend in streams. Flood warnings were issued for the Vermilion River in Livingston County as the water was heading to Pontiac.

Cleanup efforts in Strawn Sunday after strong storms the day before.

A tree is destroyed near this home in Chatsworth in Saturday's severe weather.

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