Homes Damaged in Jackson County During Tuesday Night's Tornado

Mar 1, 2017

The last day of February once again brought tornados to Southern Illinois.

Harrisburg endured a lot of damage in 2012…

This time it was a few counties west in Northern Rural Jackson County.

“I am ah, I’m devastated to be honest with you, I don’t know where to begin with a, or where to start with picking up the pieces of my life if you will.”

While Jeff Wisely was safe at work last night, his home took a direct hit from a tornado.

“I got a call form my neighbor who came to check on my house after the storms went through and called me at work and said that I need to get home.”

And when he got there, Mother Nature had done some rearranging to the place he’s called home for the last 2 decades.

“It was pretty black out here my family had flashlights and we were able to survey the damage and the debris and everything last night.”

When the sun came up Wednesday morning, the intensity of Tuesday nights storm is very clear.

Large trees were broken in half, sheet metal was wrapped around trees like ribbons, and for his house…

“It was a 2 story home as you can see on the top there the upper portion of the house is ah completely gone, where it is I don’t know at this point.”

Wisely’s house was an older farmhouse that gave him and his father an experience to bond over.

“I enjoy doing that type of thing and restoring old homes and woodworking and that sort of thing and my father does too so it was kind of a father son project, but we will ah move forward and try to make the best we can of things, you jut don’t expect things like this.”

Wednesday morning Jeff was surrounded by family and friends helping him gather his possessions and clean up the devastation left behind.

“It’s a tremendous boost to my spirits to have my family here to help clean up this mess and be supportive of me and I couldn’t do it without them that’s for sure.”

Wisely has lived his life in the area and knows severe weather is possible at any time.

Now he has a different outlook on it.

“And maybe this is the take home message to express, that we need to listen to those warnings and as the come across the news and be prepared and take cover and take it a little more seriously.”

A few miles east of Wisley’s house Brianne Phoenix and her family’s home were in the same path, but she was ready and listens to severe weather warnings.

“Our plan of action was not to be here with all the storms coming so we decided to go to my sisters which turned out to be a good plan.”

Phoenix learned from a relatives experience to not be naive about storm warnings.

“Actually my grandparents home got blown away years ago and you know you never think oh its not going to happen its not going to happen and that was just kind always of an eye opener once that happened, that it can happen so since then when they call for tornado’s and it’s a bad storm I try to have a little bit of a plan and we are fortunate to have lots of family and friends that we were able to go somewhere else.”

For Phoenix, her husband and two year old daughter going somewhere else probably saved their lives because their house was not where they left it.

“This was the side of the house and that was the side of the house, this was my front porch and it completely turned and got pushed down the hill.”

The house turned 90 degrees and moved about 50 feet to the west.

Two of the four walls are still standing.

“That’s definitely a fifty-fifty chance that we would have made it.”

Both Phoenix and Wisely are grateful that they have the support of their family to get them through this difficult time.

“We’re fortunate we have a very big family so we might be hooping houses for awhile but we’ll figure it out.”

“It’s really in times like this that you really appreciate those who reach out to you and express how much they care for you and that means a lot, it really does and in times like this when you’re at a loss for what to do.”