Tornado wreaks havoc in Atkinson

Jerilyn VanDeWoestyne
Tree limbs block the entrance to St. Anthony’s School building in Atkinson. High winds and tornadic activity caused heavy damage in the community.

What at first appeared to be straight line winds that stormed through Atkinson early  July 21 has since been identified as tornadic action, according to Atkinson Fire Chief and Civil Defense director Bob Floming. The storm that caused devastating damage and was responsible for at least 12 different trees falling into homes throughout the village began just after 6 a.m. and lasted approximately 15 minutes.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Floming said. “But we’ve had no houses flattened. We’ve had a couple of medical calls, but no one was seriously injured.”

With winds clocked at 94 miles per hour, the tornado upturned trees, tipped structure and left the village completely without power.

“I was standing on my porch a little after 6 a.m. and it sounded like a freight train was coming right down Route 6,” Floming said. “The sky was bright green at first and then it was pitch black — I was scared.”

The storm caused power outages throughout the village, affecting approximately 1,200 persons, with power returning to some homes Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve kept in contact with the power company because they worked on getting power back first to the elderly and anyone with a health condition,” Floming said. “Everyone has been a tremendous help to us”

Floming reported the fire department had even hauled water to stranded cattle for area farmers. “We basically went door to door to see what needed to be done and who needed help,” he said.

Floming reported that thanks to a generator coming from the Geneseo Water Department the village’s water tower stayed in operation.

“After 24 hours without electricity, the water pressure drops and, if that happens, you have to issue a water boil order, but we were able to get it working within that time frame,” Floming said. “We’re very thankful for that.”

Floming added he was also very thankful there were no injuries during the storm. “That is our number one goal and we lucked out there,” he said.

As of Wednesday morning most of the power had been restored to homes with hopes that it would be back on completely by sometime during the day. The brush from felled trees and downed tree limbs and branches has piled up throughout the town as residents clean up from the storm.

“There is just brush on every street and people  have been working hard to clear it up,” Floming said. “We consider ourselves very lucky.”