'It happened so quick ...'

'It happened so quick ...'

Area man escapes serious injury after winds flip home

A Belgium man said he feels lucky to be alive after high winds flipped his mobile home on its roof early Sunday afternoon while he and his two dogs were inside.

Todd Quillman, 46, said he was able to walk out of the home at 18 Urbana St., following a severe thunderstorm, with only a few cuts and bruises.

"It happened so quick," Quillman said, as he watched his father and brother-in-law haul away tree limbs and other debris. "One minute I was watching the Bears game on TV. Then my couch was on top of me."

Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency officials said three or four residents suffered minor injuries during the storm, which blew through the county shortly after 1 p.m. Director Ted Fisher said a couple of people were transported to the hospital, but he didn't know their condition Sunday evening.

Fisher said American Red Cross volunteers were setting up temporary shelters at Presence United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville and in Georgetown for anyone who might need a place to stay.

The storm — which brought heavy rain, pea-sized hail and strong winds — also damaged other properties, mainly in southern Vermilion County, Fisher said. It also uprooted trees and knocked down power poles throughout the county, causing a power outage for most of the afternoon and evening.

The Festival of Trees at the David S. Palmer Arena was canceled for the evening due to the outage.

While tornado sirens were activated in the county at two different times, Fisher said he could not confirm whether there was a funnel cloud sighting or a tornado. "The sirens went off because radar indicated there was rotation," he said.

By 6:30 p.m., Fisher said some power had been restored to portions of Hoopeston, Rossville and Catlin.

Danville remained without power, according to Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, but he expected power to be restored throughout the county by 10 p.m.

He said the storm knocked out two transmission lines to the city, and the third line was down for routine maintenance. Crews were working to restore that third line.

"There still may be some distribution lines that they will have to spot check. (Ameren) said if you see your neighbor has power and you don't, call the Ameren Illinois phone number," Eisenhauer said.

As a result of the storm, Danville's Polar Express event has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. today.

Officials said much of the storm's major damage reported on Sunday afternoon was in Belgium, a small village on Illinois 1 between Tilton and Westville. At least one other mobile home was destroyed, and tree limbs, shingles, siding and other debris littered yards and roads.

Before the storm hit, Bob Roarke, Quillman's father, was working on a vintage car in his garage next to his son's mobile home. He heard hail begin to hammer the roof, then the winds pick up. Then Roarke and a couple of buddies who were hanging out with him decided to make a run for a friend's basement down the street.

"I opened the door and saw this," he said, looking at the mangled 55-foot trailer, now upside down and off its foundation. Furniture, some clothing and other personal items lay strewn around the yard.

"It's a loss," Roarke said, adding he has insurance. "But I'm just glad my son is OK."

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