This web page was last updated: June 11, 2003


Return to Business for Sale Page        View Pictures of This Property


    Visit My Personal Web Site       Visit Lightning Speed Shop





----- Original Message -----

From: Stephen J. Shreffler

To: Multiple Blind Carbon Copy Recipients

Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 12:43 AM

Subject: The Most Devastating Tornado Anyone Here Can Remember




Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are all safe. 


The tornado that hit Monticello October 24, 2001, only caused minor damage to 7 of the houses we own, our greenhouse complex, and one of our garages.


Another house we own was more severely damaged as one big tree landed on it and we are waiting for the report from a structural engineer who inspected it today to determine the extent of damage.  Still we feel fortunate as a tree with a 6-foot diameter trunk just missed this house by inches. 


Had that huge tree landed on the house, which is one block east of Front Street (the worst hit area), the two occupants would surely been killed instantly.  Turns out that this house was in the direct path of the tornado, which must have lifted, and passed over, as there were homes and buildings destroyed all around it. 


We lost power at our residence on the east side of town at 1:36 p.m. CDT Wednesday for 30 hours. 


Glad we had a power generator...too bad our gas can was empty and had to siphon it out of a vehicle.  


Below are some news stories you may find of interest.


- Steve -






Monticello Cleans Up After Tornado


Damage is in the millions and most power is still out to most of Monticello. At least 30 buildings are damaged or destroyed and more than a thousand trees are down. Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt and the clean-up is underway. With more than a 100 workers from across the state to help, Illinois Power is trying to restore electricity to more than 3,000 customers. But with 24 utility poles snapped and more than a 1000 trees destroyed, it could take days. The National Weather Service ruled Thursday morning that it was a tornado that hit Monticello. Resident Terry Lanter told 3 News "when it picked up the neighbor’s garage, all I saw was the bottom of it. And then it was like up so fast! It was just unreal." Homeowners say they are fortunate to be alive, but some are frustrated. Winter is fast approaching and they can`t begin repairs until insurance adjusters who are coming from out of state arrive here. Volunteers who own heavy equipment are asked to go to Monticello since tons of debris need to be moved.



Tornadoes Rake Central Illinois


An unusual October storm system swept through Central Illinois causing heavy damage to buildings and injuring at least one. The heaviest damage is in Monticello in Piatt County. Witnesses say a tornado hit the town around 2 p.m. A church, a farm implement business and some other small buildings were destroyed. Tree limbs and power lines were knocked down. No one was seriously hurt. A few minutes later, witnesses say a tornado hit northwest Champaign. One man was slightly hurt, but the Bacon and Van Buskirk furniture business was torn apart. Three homes and several vehicles were heavily damaged. National Weather Service survey teams will visit the area on Thursday. If it is officially determined that a tornado caused the damage, this will be the first tornado to have hit Champaign County in the month of October since 1886. But because of advances in meteorology, the storms were predicted since Tuesday.







Many close calls: Storm spares most people as it skips its way through town


By HUEY FREEMAN -- H&R Staff Writer


MONTICELLO -- Residents, city workers and volunteers cleared away hundreds of downed trees and truckloads of debris Thursday, the day after the most devastating tornado anyone here can remember blasted through this Piatt County city.   While most of the town remained without power and most businesses were closed, the mood was upbeat as residents expressed amazement that nobody was killed or seriously injured.   "The tornado is an act of God," said Monticello Mayor Ron Ivall. "Nobody being hurt is another act of God. That has to be the second act of God in the same afternoon."   Classes will resume today in the Monticello School District after electricity had been restored to all its schools by late Thursday. Illinois Power Co. officials all of its Monticello customers to have power by midnight Thursday.


Throughout the town of 5,000 people, residents told stories of being caught by surprise by the tornado, yet escaping unharmed.   "I've seen a lot of happy people hugging each other," said Police Chief John Miller, who had been on duty for more than 24 hours straight Thursday afternoon. "I've heard that all day: 'It's a miracle nobody got hurt.' I've heard that all over town."


At Metamorphosis Montessori School, a private preschool and kindergarten on the north side, lights went out about 1:50 p.m. Wednesday.   After the school's director, Chris Sanantonio, heard the warning siren, she grabbed the nine napping 2- and 3-year olds and pulled them into a rear hallway. Eighteen children were in the building, including Sanantonio's son, 6-year-old Sam.   Ten seconds later, the tornado arrived.   "The trees started coming down," said Sanantonio. "All of us had our ears popped. We felt like at any moment everybody would be blown away."   She prayed "really hard" as five large trees crashed down around the school, denting a teacher's car, crushing playground equipment and tearing down the gutters.   "I had about nine kids in my arms," she said. "I thought if we were blown away, at least we would all be blown away together."


A quarter-mile away, registered nurse Darinda Ripper was caught in the midst of the tornado as she drove on Illinois 105 to her job at Kirby Ambulance Service.   "There was a power pole swinging in the wind, debris everywhere flying around," said Ripper, who hit a tree that fell in her car's path. "The power pole was just flopping around. It was just hanging onto the lines. I thought it was going to fall on me."   An ambulance traveling in front of her was lifted off the ground.   "I think I know what Dorothy must have felt like," Ripper said, referring to the "Wizard of Oz." "It was debris and chaos all around me."


Danny Blacker, an emergency medical technician at the ambulance service, drove to work from nearby White Heath after he heard the tornado had hit Monticello.   As he drove out of a blinding rain onto the Interstate 72 overpass, he said his small pickup truck was lifted off the road.   "The tornado picked up my truck and set it sideways on the overpass," Blacker said.   He continued into town, but his progress was checked by downed trees. He met up with Ripper, driving with her across lawns and over branches to answer a call for a possible injured person caught beneath debris in an apartment building on the west side.   The two emergency workers removed pieces of a demolished wall and insulation from the bed of Jennis Williams, a night-shift worker who normally sleeps during the day.   "When I entered the bedroom, I could see the whole outside," Blacker said.   They uncovered a row of pillows on her bed, one of which Blacker mistook for a woman's leg. They never found Williams.


A half-hour later, Williams appeared at the disaster command center at Pizza Hut. She explained she was with her father -- who was visiting from Louisiana -- when the tornado hit. She had been at her job as an aide at a group home until   11:30 a.m. She would have gone home to take a nap, if not for her father's visit.   "I'd have been a squished puppy," Williams said.   Rescuers thought she was home because her car was parked out front. She was thankful people risked their lives to sift through her apartment.   "I think Monticello has an extraordinary bunch of people who care for each other," she said.


Patrick J. Keane, Region 7 coordinator for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said city, county and township officials have done an extraordinary job of responding to the crisis with the assistance of groups from neighboring communities.   "The people in this community instantly came together," he said. "This is what we would hope would happen in every county and at every disaster."   Keane is still assessing the damage, which will run into millions of dollars.   He said two buildings were destroyed, four sustained major damage and 25 suffered minor damage.


Brad Ketcham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lincoln, said the twister was classified as a strong F1 (on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the strongest), with speeds up to 110 mph.   Ketcham said it originated at the golf course on the city's southwest side, heading northeast, touching down briefly to demolish a storage building, tear the roof off a church and hit a 12-unit apartment building and a farm implement business.   It lifted entirely off the ground for a while but later "skipped along," dancing around hundreds of houses -- sometimes staying 20 or 40 feet above ground -- as it uprooted and sheared the tops off trees throughout its two-mile-long, quarter-mile-wide path to the northeast corner of Monticello.   "That's why there wasn't any more structural damage," Ketcham said.


There was plenty of damage to the electric delivery system, with about 26 poles and 30 spans of wire down. Debbie Albin, Illinois Power customer service manager, said the primary problem was damage sustained by a substation that delivers power to the entire city.


Huey Freeman can be reached at 421-6985.






“It Looks Like A War Zone”



Published Online October 25, 2001

Copyright 2001 The News-Gazette


   MONTICELLO - Tom Dixon decided to take the afternoon off Wednesday to celebrate his birthday a few days early.   He was collecting his gear at his home on Front Street to go crappie fishing when he heard an ominous rumbling.   "It was like a locomotive coming," said Dixon, longtime administrator of Monticello's Kirby Hospital. "I've been in two previous tornados, and I recognized that sound."   He stood at his window and watched a funnel cloud bear down on his house.   "I thought it would bounce over the river, but when it took out the oak tree across the street, I realized it was coming at us. It bounced over our house, but I lost my swimming pool and 150 trees in my back yard," he said.


   "It looks like a war zone," said Sue Dixon, who was helping her husband and neighbors clean up debris. "But we're all alive, and that's what's important."


   The roof was ripped off the sanctuary at Calvary Baptist Church on Bridge Street and the fellowship hall was damaged, but Sunday school buildings were untouched. Part of the church roof came to rest on the roof of an apartment building to the northeast.   Many of the church's 250 members were gathered there by midafternoon, surveying the destruction and trying to figure out where to start cleaning up. Several cried quietly, but Jan Satterlee said there are two ways to think about the disaster.   "Our church is growing, and we were talking about remodeling or rebuilding," Satterlee said. "I guess that's been decided for us. If it was going to happen, we're fortunate that it happened when it did because no one was there. If it had happened a few hours later, the church would have been full of ladies getting ready for a big garage sale."


   The storm ripped up or twisted off a lot of trees on the north end of Market Street, one of the city's main north-south streets, and in Forest Preserve Park on the city's north side.   Four homes were heavily damaged, and 25 homes sustained minor damage, said MaryJo Hetrick, the city's economic development director.


   Greg Crawford, a Monticello insurance agent who works with the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, said the funnel cloud approached from the west near Bridge Street and cut a path north along Interstate 72 to the interstate's Market Street exit.    "We've called in police and fire personnel from other communities in the area to help," Crawford said.


   Hetrick said all city crews were out today cleaning up damage and outside organizations were rolling in to help.   A command center was set up downtown, and Red Cross volunteers were providing lunches for the cleanup workers.


   The city remained without power this morning, and Debbie Albin, customer service manager for Illinois Power, said the utility hopes to restore service to most Monticello customers by tonight.   "All of Monticello is still out," Albin said this morning. "There were four circuits there, but we got lucky because the power was off before the damage to the substation happened so there wasn't as much damage as there could have been. There are also 24 poles down and 30 spans of primary line down in Monticello, but we have to get the substation on before anyone gets on."


   Gary Huisinga was entering his John Deere dealership facing Bridge Street at the intersection with Front Street about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when the storm swept down on the neighborhood.   "I didn't hear anything, but we knew there was trouble. So we counted heads and waited until it was over to assess the damage," Huisinga said.    There was plenty of it. After the funnel cloud cut its swath through the neighborhood, which includes Monticello's Weather Oaks subdivision, Huisinga's huge metal-sided storage shed was ripped apart and sheets of metal were blown all over the area. Several metal panels blew into an Illinois Power Co. substation, shorting out all the equipment and shutting off power to a major part of the city.   Three new combines scheduled for delivery next week stood in the middle of the debris. Two other trade-in combines, a large flatbed trailer and Huisinga's boat also stood in the wreckage. A big new grain wagon nearby had a huge dent in the side. Huisinga said all that equipment is probably worth about $1 million.   "One man was here in a combine, driving in to drop off a corn head, and he sat through the whole thing," Huisinga said. "He said that substation was a fireball."


   Terry Lanter also watched the scene.   "When that tin hit the substation, it was throwing some sparks," said Lanter, who lost three big trees in the storm. He said he was at home when he heard a sound like a freight train.   "Then it got real quiet and then the whistle sounded," said Lanter, who took shelter at a neighbor's home because he doesn't have a basement.


   Jamie Keller, assistant coordinator of the Piatt County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, said this morning that there were not yet any damage estimates for Piatt County.


   Ruth Ann Clifton has lived in her Front Street home for 33 years. On Wednesday, for the first time, she took shelter in her basement.   "That wind was different," she said. "Our trees are gone. Our neighbors' trees are gone. But there weren't any injuries, so we were lucky."


   Staff writers Mike Monson and Debra Pressey contributed to this story.




Monticello Cleanup Begins



Published Online October 25, 2001

Copyright 2001 The News-Gazette


   MONTICELLO - Monticello was still without power this morning as neighbors and public works crews began the task of tornado cleanup across a landscape littered with building debris and tree limbs.


   High winds and chain saws howled through the Piatt County town, echoes of a tornado that damaged an estimated 27 structures, including a church, apartment building, implement dealership and many houses.


   "The roads are open, but we will be closing certain roads off as they are moving debris because there are a lot of very large trees that have to be moved," said Jamie Keller, assistant coordinator for Piatt County Emergency Services. "There are several sections that have 100-year-old trees that just snapped. Some very pretty trees are now gone and it's going to take a while to move them."   Keller said the tornado hit right in the heart of town, along Bridge and Front streets. She said that while there was considerable structural damage, no injuries had been reported.   "We've been fortunate in some aspects," Keller said. "Most people found places to stay last night with friends and relatives. What most people seem to need is some disaster relief, help with filling out paperwork for insurance and things like that."


   The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is not recommending at this time that Gov. Ryan declare a disaster area in Piatt County or any other parts of Illinois, but the state is helping residents there, said agency spokeswoman Chris Tamminga.    The state Corrections and Transportation departments are providing debris removal assistance, the Illinois Department of Public Health set up portable restrooms for emergency workers, and the American Red Cross is working with the citizens of Monticello and emergency    workers, Tamminga said.    "A state disaster declaration would give them no more help than what they are currently receiving," she said. "And the damage is not significant enough to warrant a federal disaster declaration."


   Ten apartment units in a building in The Oaks apartment complex had to be evacuated. The building sits on a rise in the southwest part of town. The tornado ripped the back off the building and took a pie-shaped wedge out of the roof.   Ben Baker and Gina Gifford were there helping a friend move possessions today. They and their two children had just moved from the building a few weeks ago.   "I lost a tree where we're at now," Baker said. "But if we'd been here, I'd hate to think what would've happened. Our apartment was right in the middle of where it hit."


   Just below the apartment building on the same rise, the sanctuary and pews and hymnbooks of the Calvary Baptist Church sat exposed to the elements as church members inspected the damage. The roof and parts of three walls "just disappeared" in the storm, said church member Charles Dalton.   Stan Eades, a fellow church member, said there had already been an outpouring of offers of help from other churches and the community. They have at least four options of where to meet Sunday but no decision had been made.    Keller said the United Methodist Church in Monticello is open for anyone needing shelter or disaster relief. Red Cross workers are there to help with relief, including providing vouchers for hotels, clothing or other necessities.   Keller said surrounding towns and counties have offered equipment, including Cerro Gordo, Bement, DeWitt and Macon counties and the state police.   "It may take a couple of days," Keller said of the cleanup efforts. "It depends on the volunteers we have. It depends on how long the chainsaws last because we're talking some honkin' big trees."

   Keller said she has not received reports of any severe damage outside Monticello.


   Some of the worst residential damage occurred along Timberline Drive in a section of the southwest part of town.   Krickett Wright, her family and neighbors were busy removing parts of a large sycamore tree from her front yard, a tree that had been in the back yard the day before. But for some holes in the roof, her house was surprisingly spared from much damage, but a barn in the back had been moved from its moorings and one side was missing. A fence was knocked down and six horses escaped. All were found down by the Sangamon River below her house.   "I was at work at Provena (Covenant Medical Center in Urbana) when I heard and didn't know what to think. I made it home pretty fast," she said.


   Next door, Monticello football coach John Beccue lost part of his roof and nearly all of his garage. A line of 30-foot evergreens across from his house was sheared off halfway up. Beccue was at school when the storm hit. He rushed home when students were dismissed.   "It was kind of scary. I couldn't get back up the street at first because of all the trees in the road," Beccue said. "You don't know what to think."



IP Restoring Monticello Power


By The News-Gazette

Published Online October 26, 2001

Copyright 2001 The News-Gazette


   MONTICELLO – Power was restored to almost all of Monticello and schools were reopening this morning after Wednesday´s storms.   Some 100 to 150 homes – out of 3,000 in Monticello – were without power this morning, said Illinois Power spokeswoman Debbie Albin.


   While Monticello schools reopened, the superintendent was worried about what computer glitches might appear as power is restored to the district´s 450 computers.   “We´re crossing our fingers and praying to the computer gods,” said Mike Reeves, the district´s superintendent.   “We were very fortunate,” he said, that none of the school district buildings suffered damage from the tornado.


   That was true for most of the town, said IP´s Albin, though she said workers – who numbered 100 or more from several other Illinois towns at the height of cleanup efforts – were trying to fix the remaining homes without power.   “We will not leave till everybody is restored,” she said.   The storm that hit Wednesday afternoon threw building debris into the utility´s substation, and insulation blown from buildings hampered work on getting the substation – which serves all of Monticello – back up.


   On Thursday, firefighters sprayed down the substation to get rid of insulation, she said.   “Any time you´ve got problems in a substation, it´s harder to take care of” because the electricity coming into it is higher voltage and because more equipment is needed than to repair a downed line.   The substation was back on at about noon Thursday.   Albin said the utility announced it would have the town fully restored by 11 p.m. or midnight last night, but that some customers might not realize they had an isolated problem until their neighbors´ power was restored. Some of those remaining fit that description today, she said.   In addition, some homes may have had their “service entrance” – where electric lines connect to the home – damaged, and homeowners have to make arrangements with electricians to get those fixed.


   The substation damage was only part of the problem for the utility. The winds knocked down 26 poles and 30 spans of wire “all over town,” Albin said.   Still this morning, she said, there are trees that “look like cotton candy” because of insulation blown into them.


   In the city´s schools, today was expected to be “back to normal,” Reeves said.   But he said some children might have some difficulty emotionally, and the district´s counselors and social workers were ready to help if needed.   He didn´t expect much of that because, despite the devastation caused by the storm, there were no injuries.   “It would have been different if we´d had a loss of human life or a lot of people injured,” Reeves said. “Property damage can all be replaced. Once a life is gone, it´s gone. Thank the Lord we didn´t have any of that.”


   Albin said she was struck by the spirit of cooperation that emerged.   She noted a Pizza Hut restaurant became the command center for emergency and relief workers, a church served as a warming area.   And when utility workers restored their first downed pole – outside the substation – “one guy happened to have a flag” and attached it to the pole before the crew put the pole into place, Albin said.   “It´s still there.”




Monticello Recovering Quickly From Tornado



Published Online October 27, 2001

Copyright 2001 The News-Gazette


   MONTICELLO — Chris Elston had just made one mortgage payment on his Logan Court ranch house in Monticello when a 40-foot oak branch fell on his roof Wednesday.   On Friday, his power was still out, but he was pretty pleased with his roof. After working nearly non-stop for 48 hours in chilly winds, he had the roof clear and much of the debris ready to take to the streets.   His wife and 6-month-old baby were safe, despite a terrifying stay in the crawl space during the storm.   “That's what I care about, not the new house,” the 28-year-old teacher said.


   Patrick J. Keane, regional coordinator for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said that as of Friday, despite possibly millions in damage, he still hadn't heard of anyone being seriously injured in Monticello's storm.   “We didn't have a disaster. This is a mess,” said Keane, who knows disasters, including overseeing recovery at Ogden, devastated by a 1996 tornado that hit several towns and killed a woman driving a truck.


   Watching 40 prisoners from the Paris Department of Corrections work camp finish up after a morning of clearing debris, Keane was positively upbeat in his makeshift office next to the Pizza Hut.   “It's going wonderfully,” he said. “People have been really helpful, especially the city of Champaign, who sent trucks over yesterday and today.”


   In fact, the management agency is standing down for the weekend. Heavy equipment workers from the Illinois Department of Transportation and other agencies were so effective Thursday and Friday that they're going to get out of the way so city workers and private citizens can have room to safely clear branches, trees, insulation and roofing from yards.   “Then we'll be back at 8:30 a.m. Monday,” he said, to remove the debris.   Keane asked Monticello residents to make two piles at their curbsides: one for yard waste, another for metal and other housing materials.   “That will save the workers a lot of time separating them,” he said.   He said that since power has been restored to most of Monticello, there's very little that needs to be done with the haste of an emergency.


   But that's cold comfort to the Elstons, who have been working all day in their yard, then retreating to relatives for hot showers and hot food.   Illinois Power told the family they would have electricity by the end of Friday. Earlier, the utility had expected to have most of the town's electricity back on by Thursday evening, but restoring power to some areas has revealed areas where smaller lines are down or pulled away from connections to homes.   Elston was deliberating Friday how best to get rid of the huge oak branch in his backyard. Its heavy base hit the ground first, easing the strain on his roof, but after getting it down, he still had to chop it up.   He was somewhat slowed by the power line snaking near it.   “I don't know if that's hot or not,” he said. “I don't want to find out the hard way, so I'm not going to get near it.”   He was at school when the tornado slammed into town at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. His wife, Kathy, was at home with 6-month-old Abby, a 4-year-old nephew and an 8-year-old niece.   Her sister called to warn her, and Kathy got the kids into the crawlspace under the bedroom. She says she doesn't remember being scared.   “You have to take care of the kids; afterwards, you're scared,” she said.   They didn't even hear it when the branch landed on the roof.    “We were so very lucky” Kathy said. “In just a matter of days, it's all cleaned up.”


   That wasn't yet true at Calvary Baptist Church, one of the worst-hit structures in town. Church volunteers were still taking broken boards off the roof Friday afternoon, aided by members of Decatur's Central Baptist Convention Disaster Ministry.   “It feels good to be helping out,” said Charles Antrim of the ministry, trying to keep his hands warm. “I was asked to go to New York to help out, but couldn't do it on short notice, so it's good to be here.”






Return to Business For Sale Page


View Pictures of This Property


Visit My Personal Web Site


Visit Lightning Speed Shop







Copyright © 2003 Eades Greenhouse and Nursery. All rights reserved.

Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.

This web site was created, designed and maintained by Stephen J. Shreffler using Microsoft Word.

Web Hosting powered by Shreffler Web Hosting Service, P.O. Box 42, Monticello, Illinois 61856