March 2, 2017

First responders give reports at news conference

PERRYVILLE – Perryville’s first responders discussed how they responded to the initial tornado touchdown and its aftermath during a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the Perry Park Center theater.

Search and Rescue Ops:

8:04 p.m. first call dispatched to I-55 for multiple vehicles off roadway and flipped. Structural damage observed upon arrival. Several minor injuries on I-55 and one fatality.

Responded to the 806-side of I-55 and had major damage, houses completely demolished. Houses being destroyed in Moore Drive area; two trapped in house on 61 near Moore Drive. They were successfully rescued. Extensive searches throughout entire path of storm starting at Pine Drive (off of Hwy N) to the bottoms of Junctions of C & E.

Tornado was on the path up to the river and crossed over into Illinois. Approximately 15 miles of pathway.

3:00 a.m. more storms came in, another tornado warning issued and caused set back for a couple hours. Secondary searches began at daybreak; quick and then a high and low search with K9s to make sure everyone was accounted for.

No missing person reports. Everyone is accounted for at this time.

Approximately 180 structures (living houses) were looked at. Crews were going around with GPS’s, marking each location on GPS system. Approximately 60 percent had moderate to severe damage.

Chester Fire, Biehle Fire, East Perry Fire, Jefferson, St. Louis & Franklin Counties striker teams responded. Crystal City, Festus, Park Hills Rock Community. Ste. Gen, Ozora.


Officers responded to assist fire with search and rescue. Jackson PD sent two officers to assist. St. Louis County also offered help, as well as Ste. Gen and other agencies. Police walked several people to ambulances to be checked and then walked them out. Officers continued Tuesday morning to assist fire at scene. Some officers are doing two-man roles with being fireman, too. No injuries, other than chief stepping on nail. Nothing further to report. Restricted areas have been opened to residents and code enforcers to make sure houses are safe enough to enter/house status for insurance purposes.


Everything went well and everyone worked together well. Keeping traffic out of downed power lines. All roads are passable. No restricted areas, except for areas where downed power lines are (use caution). MSHP is helping out tremendously.


Assisting with check points and restricting traffic to areas that were hit. MSHP will patrol around to damaged areas and can remain throughout the night to assist in patrolling areas.

Cpt. Johnson (Troop C). Sending more MSHP out tonight to secure houses and resources needed. Governor will be arriving around 2 p.m. (Tuesday) and will be staying about an hour and a half.


2200 outages at peak of event. Website is updated. 969 current out; majority in Perry County. They’ll get a lot of people back on and then it’ll be slow. Could be a matter of days. Residents with health issues may need to seek shelter elsewhere until back up and running. 98 people working; 44 outside electric co-ops working, 54 of their people. A few days worth of work. The higher voltage lines are down (three) and will take a while to get to but not really contributing to the power outage issue.

Public Works:

One gas meter at Moore Drive and lift station heavily damaged. Pump station is out of power. Debris removal on Moore Drive – cleared road and actively anticipating what next step will be.


I-55: done with southbound lane. Crews are cleaning up on median, giving them a lane drop. Assessing all barricades and signs, placing sandbags where needed. US 61 closed from Rte AC. Rt C is closed from Belgique to levee. Barricades on US 61 and Rte. C should stay put while power lines are down. MODOT will be contacted when poles are replaced.

Health Department:

Available for tetanus shots. No other problems or issues. Some CERT people were out and helping last night. Telling all volunteers to come in and register. Badging machine is set up and ID tags are being made. CRD 806 western Perry Co. N road, CRD 816, Hwy 51 C & E, Twin Lakes areas were areas that they were told were hit and could use volunteers. Sending Red Cross supplies with them and sending them on their way. Where do you need volunteers and what do you need?

Three large organizations with heavy equipment and ready to be hands-on.

CRD 806 and North Soreno are bad. Chainsaws are being dispersed to that area. Moore Drive will be bad with trees down.

Donate practical: Blankets, pillows, toothbrushes/toiletries, basic needs. (Catholic Charities). When we need supplies, we will tell you.

Red Cross:

Evacuation shelter set up at 10 p.m. No residents stayed, but 68 first responders stayed overnight. Mental health workers and health services will be on hand should they be needed. Multi-agency resource set up for citizens to come and get financial assistance. Try to build up long-term recovery. As soon as the first responders no longer need lodging, they’ll have a resource center for Friday-Saturday for residents. Location will be announced in the near future.


Search & Rescue and Fire Strike worked beautifully last night. Focusing on human services elements. Damage assessments will be done later this afternoon. The Governor will be visiting. Front team here around 12:30 p.m. He’ll be looking at CRD 806 and Moore Drive. Governor is wanting to meet personally with responders and viewing the damage.


Cattle out and fences down; Steinbeckers has been contacted and their crew is rounding up cattle.

Humane Society:

Pet shelter is enroute. We can arrange shelter/transportation. We can take 25 right now at the shelter.

Pet food and supplies en route. Pet supplies donations are being collected in Cape. Coordinate with Catholic Charities.


Super cell storm tracked from Perry County, possibly began to the west, across most of Southern Illinois and Southwest Indiana. Team’s objective is to look at all damage through Perry County to make assessment. Will eventually provide us a rating, estimated peak winds. It appears from damage seen through different sources it’s "up in the scale somewhere."


Limbs and Debris for Drop-off: Working on it with Road and Bridge. Rock query may be an option.

Chester Bridge has been checked and is all good.

Track all assets. Log all chain saws, backhoe, good specific things with equipment used to submit to state and federal levels. Volunteers also need to track their times. (Personnel and equipment). Volunteer login is at the site; sign in the name, address, what time work began and what time they left.