This winter will be the first for Tony and Lynn Knowles in their own home, and they're not sure what kind of power bills to expect.
They're not waiting until temperatures drop to find out. With help from a government weatherization program, the Rantoul family is making energy-efficiency improvements to save fuel – and money.
The Home Weatherization Program, coordinated by the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, helps income-eligible households raise the energy efficiency of their homes. That might include weather-stripping, insulation for attics and walls, repairs for drafty windows and doors, or even a new fuel-efficient furnace.
CHAMPAIGN – Torrential rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ike soaked Champaign-Urbana Sunday morning, flooding basements and viaducts and sending the Champaign Fire Department out to respond to numerous calls for help from motorists.
Rainfall varied from 3 to more than 6 inches over the weekend for some towns in Champaign County.
URBANA – Tamisha White said water was not only pouring into her Urbana apartment Thursday night, but parts of a bedroom ceiling also fell on her 8-month old son.
Luckily, the boy had only scratches on his face, she said, but White was upset Friday morning that more had not been done earlier to fix a leaky roof at the Colorado Trace Apartments.
Area utilities reported widespread power outages through East Central Illinois Monday morning, but predicted most would be restored quickly.
Gifford and Fisher are hardest hit.
CHAMPAIGN – No injuries were reported in the aftermath of severe thunderstorms that came through the area Tuesday evening.
Rainfall was recorded at 2.10 inches at WILL in Urbana and 2.68 inches in Sidell, said Heather Stanley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
Two state agencies have partnered with the National Weather Service to declare this lightning safety awareness week.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Natural Resources are reminding people that it's estimated that more than 1,000 people are injured in this country annually from lightning strikes. On average, another 62 die.
RANTOUL – Mother Nature can throw some crazy curveballs.
Several counties to the west of Steve Gordon's plots of corn and soybeans, other people's corn and beans are buried deep underwater. They are destroyed – all those millions of tender, inch-high soy plants; foot-high stalks of corn that were just about ready to shoot upward.
AmerenIP was working this morning to restore power to homes that lost it during a late-afternoon storm Sunday.
Nearly 2,100 people in Urbana and about two dozen in Champaign were without power Sunday evening, according to Ameren's Web site. As of 7 a.m. today, 114 customers in Urbana and two in Champaign remained without electricity.
HOMER – The bright sun warmed Kent Krukewitt's farm fields in rural Homer on Tuesday afternoon, but it was too muddy to get into the fields to plant.
"I still have 60 percent of my soybeans left to plant, and a good portion of the 40 percent that is in the ground may have to be replanted," Krukewitt said.
ARTHUR – Arthur Mayor David Conlin said he has never seen so much water in his community.
"There's more standing water around town than I've seen in my lifetime, and I'm 75 years old," Conlin said.