Okawville residents believe limited tornado damage was 'luck'


by Laura Hettiger / News 4


Posted on September 26, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 1:05 PM

OKAWVILLE, Ill. (KMOV) -- People in the small, southern Illinois town of Okawville believe luck was on their side when an EF-1 tornado touched down in the area Tuesday night.


“We are resilient,” Police Chief Steve Millikin said after surveying the damage early Wednesday morning. So are most of the structures in the area.

The 100-yard wide tornado, which reached about 100 mph, only destroyed a new construction project on a multi-story, vacant home.

Ashley Hackstood last saw what she calls her dream home around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. She was shocked when her soon-to-be neighbors and her contractor called to say the storm leveled the frame of the house and even threw lumber across the street.

“No one was hurt though,” Hackstood said, looking at the pile of wood and nails. “That’s the good thing.”

Other damage in Okawville included downed tree limbs. One of the limbs even fell on a car. However, the owner said the car was going to be taken to a salvage yard this week for parts anyway.

Chief Millikin was proud no one in his town lost power and that there were no serious injuries. A semi-truck driver was injured when his truck overturned in the storm.

Two miles north of town though and, even through the rain, it’s easy to see the tornado’s path of destruction.

Bryan Rennegarbe is the third generation of Rennegarbe to farm just south of County Road 4 on Highway 177. After the storm, he questions if he could be the last.

“We had a lot of damage,” he said while pointing to a pile of bricks that used to be a grain silo. “We are waiting for the insurance company before we start cleaning up.”

The Rennegarbe farm lost the silo, the roof of a barn full of machinery as well as a new shed. Bricks and mud  take over part of the farm while the storm tossed siding and downed powerlines into their field.

While the Hackstoods and Rennegarbes now have properties full of rainwater and debris, both families agreed with Chief Millikin that the tornado “could have been worse.”