OKAWVILLE – Cleanup efforts were under way Wednesday in southern Illinois after a storm pounded the region with large hail and as much of six inches of rain, and spawned an apparent tornado that overturned a tractor trailer and leveled farm outbuildings.
Okawville Police Chief Steve Millikin said a tornado that he videotaped Tuesday night on his dashboard camera clipped the northern edge of his 1,400-resident Washington County village, narrowly missing the community's downtown.
"We got lucky, to be flat honest with you," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Had it come a half mile to the south, it would have come right through town, and we would have had a mess."
Millikin said the trucker in the semi rig that was blown over on Interstate 64 was slightly injured. He also said the storm leveled a house being built and damaged roofs and farm structures.
Eyewitness reports and video appear to confirm that a tornado caused that damage, although the intensity, path and length of that twister were expected to be determined Wednesday, said meteorologist Ben Miller of the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
"We're pretty sure it's a tornado," Miller said.
Portions of southern Illinois got pelted by hail at times as big as pingpong balls, with 4 to 6 inches of rain dumped by the storm since Tuesday night causing flash flooding.
Miller said the storms were expected to hound the region perhaps into the weekend.