A severe thunderstorm with strong winds, heavy rains, and hail hit Greenville and Bond County around 6PM Sunday. There have been numerous reports of substantial damage from the storm and one woman was injured when a tree fell across her car.

26-year-old Crystal G. Biggerstaff of Greenville was southbound on Elm at Ridge Avenue in front of Gruen Sales and Service when a large section of the tree snapped in half and fell across her vehicle. The accident happened just as the storm hit Greenville and she told firefighters that she saw the tree falling and was able to lay down on the floorboard before it came crashing through her car. It took the Greenville Fire Protection District and City of Greenville street crews nearly ninety minutes to extricate the woman as they had to wait for the removal of power lines. Fire Chief Bill Johnston told WGEL that they were able to take out the windshield giving the woman enough room to crawl out. She was transported by ambulance to Greenville Regional Hospital for treatment of back injuries. A hospital spokesman told WGEL that Biggerstaff was treated and then transferred to another hospital in satisfactory condition.

Car on Elm Street were Crystal Biggerstaff was trapped.. Most of the smashed car is covered by the tree but you can see the tail lights towards the bottom on the left side.

The Larry and Darla Snow residence on north Idler Lane took a major hit from the storm as the top section of the house was damaged. Family and friends quickly responded and assisted with the cleanup. WGEL has been told that the Ted Schrage farm in southern Bond County also suffered a lot of damage. A Bond County deputy who viewed the damage reported that you could see the path of the storm leading him to believe it was not the work of straight line winds.

Another Bond County deputy said he saw a funnel cloud pass near his house on Hunter School Avenue. City police also received a 9-1-1 call from someone who thought they saw a funnel cloud near Hookdale.

A machine shed at the Dave Marti residence on Cottonwood Avenue southwest of Greenville was blown away. A pickup truck in the shed was heavily damaged along with a garage door on the home.

Brenda Thiems told WGEL that her husband and daughter were working at the family farm in Old Ripley when the storm hit. As they were running for shelter, Roger Thiems was hit by a tree limb causing minor injuries to his back and arm.

Two farms east of Pierron are cleaning up after the storm destroyed a barn at the Rick Zurliene residence and two barns at Del Zurliene's. WGEL has been told that some beef cattle were killed in the damage at the Rick Zurliene farm.

Two trees fell on the Max Whited residence north of Mulberry Grove. An upstairs bedroom was damaged along with an out building and a swimming pool.

The Sorento area also felt damage from the storm. Frank Mriscin who lives northwest of Sorento told WGEL that some tall pine trees on his property were sheared in half. One of the trees fell on his mobile home.

Other damage included a barn at the Marilyn Debatin farm on Tri Avenue; a tree on a trailer on 6th Street in Mulberry Grove; a tree on a house on east South Avenue in Greenville; a storage shed blown over on the Greenville College practice field; a 60 x 100 machine shed at the Gary Weiss farm on Sugarloaf Road; a concrete silo at the Kenneth Kersch farm on Cart Hill Road and numerous sheds, signs, fences, and power lines. At Southwestern Electric, their communications tower was toppled and at nearby Circle W Tire the sign and building were also damaged. The horse arena on the western edge of the Bond County Fairgrounds suffered major damage. A WGEL listener informed us that several electric poles were knocked over in Pierron. A semi was blown over on I-70 near the 47-mile marker. The Greenville Fire Protection District responded but found the driver out of the vehicle and not injured. Authorities believe the strong winds caused the driver to lose control of the rig.

Southwestern Electric's Communication tower on Route 40 was bent in half, but amazingly the tower light stayed on.

Southwestern Electric Co-operative's Tower


Three Bond County residents had a rough ride Sunday afternoon when thunderstorms hit Fairview Heights. Notosha Leitschuh had just bought furniture and along with her boyfriend and sister were traveling on Route 50 near the Petco Store when the winds picked up.

Leitschuh explained to WGEL that they saw shopping carts blowing around and then a Taco Bell signed landed on top of a car. They then felt their truck and trailer picked up and tossed across the road.

Notosha told us that the trailer landed on top of a parked car but none of the furniture inside was damaged. Notosha said her sister hurt her elbow in the accident but said they were very fortunate that none of them was seriously injured.


The storms are blamed for two area deaths, one in Castlewood Park near Ballwin, Missouri and one at a collapsed K&G clothing store in Fairview Heights. A dozen shoppers and six employees were in the building at the time. A spokesperson for the St. Clair County Sheriff's department confirmed one fatality, a man from East St. Louis. At least two people were taken to the hospital after being pulled from the rubble.

As we reported earlier, the Highland Community School District is closed today after Highland saw heavy wind damage. High winds and at least one confirmed tornado created damage to homes, businesses, trees and power lines across the bi-state area. Heavy wind damage was reported in Highland, where one home was destroyed, another lost its roof and another lost its attached garage. Officials are still working to determine how much of yesterday's storm damage came from tornadoes. An F-1 tornado was reported yesterday in O'Fallon, Illinois, and an Illinois State Police trooper reported another twister on Kaskaskia Island.


WGEL talked to Shawn Van Slyke with Ameren IP around 7:30 this morning and he confirmed that they continue to work on restoring power but the damage was so widespread that they are bringing in crews from other areas to assist. Sandy Nevinger with Southwestern Electric reported that because Ameren IP's transmission lines took such a hard hit that they will need to be restored before sub-stations can get back on-line and Southwestern outages can be fixed. Neither could, at this time, give an estimate of when power would be completely restored


The City of Highland sustained much damage during Sunday's storms. City Manger Mark Latham told WGEL that one home on Trenton Road was flattened and the roof of the United Church of Christ on Poplar Street caught quite a bit of damage. Six homes in the area had trees that fell on the roofs and about 50 homes had shingles that blew off. One injury was reported in the damage. A man was sitting in his home by a picture window and a picnic chair blew threw the window and hit him. The man was treated and released from the hospital. Crews worked until about 3:00 a.m. to get circuits back up to restore power to the 40% of people that did not have power, about 10% are still without power. Latham also said that the south side of Highland was hit the worst and Old Trenton Road, along with other streets, were blocked off because trees and power lines had broken and fallen onto the street. There was no school in Highland today due to the power outage.


The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in cooperation with Bond County Highway Department will close the wooden bridge on Red Ball Trail in order to conduct repairs. The bridge will be closed on Tuesday, April 4 to Friday, April 7. The closure will be from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. each day. The bridge will remain open before and after these times and the bridge will be impassable during repairs. A detour route will be marked.




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