WHEATON, MO — Thankfully there were no injuries, but there were some near misses and plenty of property damaged.
The normally quiet town of Wheaton, Missouri, is home to about 700 people.
On Tuesday afternoon, several of those homes were damaged by what will likely be called a tornado after the National Weather Service has a chance to survey the aftermath.
Many structures in the south part of the small town had roofs ripped off, some forced off their foundation.
KOLR10 spoke to homeowner Debbie Brown.
Almost all of her neighbors houses saw some kind of damage. Brown told the story of when the storm came through.
She was home alone at the time, and tried to run to her neighbors cellar, but found it was locked. She looked up and saw what appeared to be a tornado a few hundred yards away, so she made quick decision to run back home and take cover.
“I just thought ‘Oh my God, it’s my time. I gotta get in the bathtub.’ So I grabbed a couple blankets, got in there, got my head covered. My husband called and was crying and bawling and yelling because he was stuck over here and couldn’t get to me. I called my daughter and told her I loved her, and then everything went silent, and I thought ‘Oh my god, it’s coming’ and then it was was just like a crushing noise. I guess that’s when it hit or when this big tree came up,” says Brown as she points to an uprooted tree in her backyard.
Her neighbors saw the worst of the damage, including Wheatons Fire Chief, whose roof was torn off.
But about 5 minutes southwest of there, at the Southwest Auction, multiple buildings were a total loss, including a two story home that collapsed in on itself.
Thankfully, nobody was home at the time.
We spoke with the owner of the auction barn, Bob Hughes, who described the phone calls with his family and employees here before the tornado tore through the area, while he was about 10 minutes away.
“I called my employees, and my daughter and son both work here, as well as about 10 other people. I told them to pack up and go home about 3, 3:30. They said the son was shining, looked beautiful here, wasn’t any reason for alarm. I called back about 5 minutes later and said that tornado is supposed to be there in 10 minutes, get everybody out of there and go home. My daughter got five miles from here, my office secretaries got 5 miles from here, all the employees got 5 miles from here, and then the tornado hit,” Hughes said.
That storm came through in the afternoon, but fire department stayed busy assisting people throughout the evening. Power lines knocked out power for a brief time as well.