Updated: 'As soon as I hit the buttom to close the door, it hit'

The roof of a storage shed at Ehler Brothers, rural Thomasboro, was one of three buildings damaged by Tuesday morning's storm. One employee of the business was injured.

Updated 1:10 p.m. July 22

THOMASBORO — Kris Ehler was mowing the yard at his home a mile and a half west of Thomasboro late Tuesday afternoon and saw the gathering storm.

“My wife had made the comment, ‘You’re not going to get much done,’” as she saw the weather headed that way.

She was right. About 15 minutes later, Ehler headed for the shed to put the mower away.

“As soon as I hit the button to close the door, it hit,” he said.

He immediately called his wife and told her and their two children to get to the basement. He could tell this was no simple rainstorm.

“The sounds that were coming were very reminiscent of a tornado,” Ehler said. “The wind kept switching directions. One side would be getting beat around, and then it would switch to the other.”

The rain came down so hard that it was overflowing the gutters on the building. When the wind died down a few minutes later, Ehler headed to the house, where he soon got a call that there had been damage at the family business, Ehler Brothers, southeast of Thomasboro.

Rafters down

Rafters came down in a storage shed at Ehler Brothers due to a late Tuesday morning storm that swept through the area.

Parts of the town were damaged as well — the second damaging storm this month in the community.

Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said based on eyewitness accounts, damage photos, radar data and information from the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency office, the storm is being classified as a microburst “with wind gusts estimated to be at least 70 to 80 mph.”

On Wednesday morning, Ehler, who is a sales agronomist for the company, and employees were working on the rafters that had been damaged on a machine shed where chemical application and farm equipment was stored.  

The storm also ripped his grandmother’s garage off the foundation and blew it into the office building, damaging it.

An employee was injured and had to have eight stitches in her head. She had been trying to close a west-facing overhead door when the wind blew remnants of the garage into the building, knocked her back and caused her to hit her head. Ehler said she was transported to an area hospital for treatment and was released Tuesday night.

Thomasboro Fire Chief Paul Cundiff said the storm blew down trees in town and shingles off roofs.

“I actually lost some shingles at my house, too,” Cundiff said. “This time it was the south side of town, south of Central Avenue.”

A storm a week and a half earlier hit the middle part of town, felling trees and catching a garage on fire when a power line came down on it.

In Tuesday’s storm there was a report of a trampoline catching fire from a downed power line, but Cundiff said, “It was raining hard enough it didn’t amount to anything.”

Cundiff said the storm broke several power poles along County Road 2500N.

“The power company worked on a couple of poles for five or six hours,” he said.

Ehler had wondered if it was a tornado that hit by the looks of the debris, but “it will probably be classified as straight-line” winds.

The sound of the wind — “it makes an eerie, almost scream,” Ehler said — will stay with him.

Ehler knows what a tornado can do. The one that damaged a part of Gifford in November 2013 first touched down an eighth of a mile from Ehler Brothers.

Tim Ditman contributed to this article.


THOMASBORO -- An official at a farm retail company in Thomasboro said business will go on after the property suffered damage Tuesday from storms that packed winds in the range of 60 miles per hour and injured one person.

Kris Ehler, one of the owners of Ehler Brothers, said the winds moved a garage off its foundation and into an office building, injuring an employee in the process. Ehler said the woman went to the hospital. He didn't know her condition.

Ehler also said the storms destroyed a nearby machine shed.

Elsewhere, Champaign County EMA Coordinator John Dwyer said the severe

weather downed tree limbs and power lines in the Thomasboro area, leading

to power outages.

Dywer also said the Thomasboro fire department responded to a power line

that hit a trampoline and set it on fire. A rep for the fire department was not available for further comment.

EMA coordinator John Dwyer said the severe weather downed tree limbs and

power lines.

The downed power lines led to scattered, relatively small power outages,

which Ameren crews are repairing.