Black Friday in Vermillion

Only lightning illuminated Vermillion during Friday morning's citywide blackout, as high winds from the severe storm knocked down power lines.

Both the city of Vermillion, which is controlled by Vermillion Light & Power, and Clay-Union Electric lost power around 2 a.m. with power in Vermillion coming back on around 4 a.m.

Clay-Union found it a little more difficult, as the energy provider worked around the clock and had power restored to everyone in its 90-square-mile coverage by 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Both power companies said the outages were caused by the same problem – 70 mile per hour winds. The gusts either blew down the power lines or blew down trees and branches which knocked down lines.

Mike Wensel, a lineman for Vermillion Light & Power, said things could have been a lot worse.

"Our system is basically 95 percent underground, so that really helped," he said. "It was our incoming power that affected us and everything went well considering the 70 mile per hour winds."

Clay-Union Electric Operations Manager Leo Powell said a storm like the one Friday morning is rare.

"Keeping track for the last 25 years, you don't see a storm like this often," he said. "Usually a storm might knock out a portion of our coverage, but this one knocked out everything across the board."

Powell said the outages started in Mission Hill, Gayville and Wakonda.

He said even though power has been restored to all of the company's coverage area, there is still plenty of cleanup left.

"There are places that have enough clearance and we have to clean up, but we got everything restored, and we can clean up after that," he said.

There is a chance of thunderstorms again this weekend, 30 percent on Friday night and 60 percent on Saturday, but Powell said as long as there isn't strong winds like the last storm, everything should be fine.

Powell said customers showed patience during the outage.

"Everyone who reported a power outage was very understanding, considerate and patient," he said. "That makes it a lot better. They saw the damage, and sometimes you wonder how the line is even still standing."

Once power was restored to the community, the focus turned to cleanup, which started in Vermillion at 2:30 a.m.

The Vermillion streets and sidewalks were riddled with branches of all sizes. Some branches were big enough to block most, if not all, of many streets.

Vermillion Light & Power helped the Vermillion Street Department clean up the branches.

Plows went through the streets, pushing the smaller branches to the side of the road.

The bigger, more damaging branches were moved out of harm's way.

While most residents had to deal with just a power outage and picking up branches after the storm passed, one building wasn't as fortunate.

The Faith Fellowship Church on the corner of Highways 50 and 19 took on more wind than it could handle. Parts of the roof and siding were torn off the side of the building.

The Rev. Tony Armbrust said, when he got to the church at 1 p.m., he could see the shingles from the roof buried deep in the ground because of the wind.

The roof of the church was only four to five years old, he said, and the siding was two to three years old.

The church also suffered water damage to a small portion of the building, mainly in the children's ministry area.

However, one of the ministry rooms was untouched by the storm.

The room holds a number of children's clothes, diapers and food for needy mothers.

"We are thankful to the Lord that the room was untouched," Armbrust said.

The damage also won't affect Sunday church services since the main hall was far enough away from the part of the roof that was ripped away.

Even though the damage took place early in the morning, a crew was already on sight to fix the damage even before Armbrust got to the church.

The portion of the roof that is missing was already covered up to protect the church from any more storm damage in the next day or two.

The insurance adjuster was on the scene by 4 a.m., assessing the damage since the whole church is under coverage.

"It's in good shape considering," Armbrust said. "I think the Lord was watching over us."

Even though the damaged portion of the church is the children's ministry, Armbrust said next week's Vacation Bible School won't be affected.

"We were going to have it at the Armory anyway, and we have about 40 to 50 kids signed up," he said.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>