Storm derails train; causes damage

Thursday, January 31, 2013
Crews with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe work to clear rail cars from tracks Wednesday morning near the Route M overpass in Rockview. Over 40 cars on the Union Pacific train derailed after 9 p.m. Tuesday night. (Laura Simon)

High winds and heavy downpours that swept across the area Tuesday night are reported to have damaged property, blown two tractor-trailers over and caused several Union Pacific rail cars to derail.

No local fatalities were reported.

Trooper Clark Parrott, spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, attributes that to people being warned in advance of the approaching storm.

"There were weather warnings issued almost all day before the storm arrived in the area," Parrott said. "I think a lot of people heeded those warnings and stayed inside. Otherwise, there may have been more serious injuries for us to report."

Robert E. Wyatt of Dexter, Mo., received moderate injuries when wind blew his tractor-trailer off Highway 25 about one mile north of Delta. Parrott said another driver was uninjured when his tractor-trailer overturned on Highway 25 south of Bernie, Mo.

There were no injuries involved in the derailment of Union Pacific rail cars in Rockview, Mo., in Scott County north of Chaffee, Mo. Nearly 50 rail cars were overturned by the winds, and approximately 800 feet of damaged track will need to be repaired or replaced. Mark Davis, a spokesman for Union Pacific, confirmed Wednesday that the railroad company's preliminary report on the incident will blame winds for the derailment.

The cars were carrying auto parts. Davis said the engineer was slowing the train after hearing tornado warning reports from a dispatcher, and the emergency brakes were engaged.

Weather might have contributed to an accident that shut down northbound Interstate 55 at Cape Girardeau when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by a car driven by Cape Girardeau County Judge Scott Lipke, but a police accident report wasn't complete Wednesday.

The National Weather Service stayed busy Tuesday night, gathering information and issuing weather reports that at times included threats of tornadoes.

"There were straight-line winds generated by the storm that blew between 60 to 70 miles per hour," said Christine Wielgos, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky. "There were reports of funnel clouds in Southeast Missouri, but right now we have no confirmation of there being any actual tornadoes."

Wielgos added that, to be sure, the National Weather Service had sent damage-assessment teams to hard-hit locations in Illinois and Kentucky to investigate if tornadoes had touched down.

Cape Girardeau County Emergency Management reported roofs of many homes in the county lost shingles and barns collapsed in rural areas. Trees also were downed across the area, and many Ameren customers lost power Tuesday night.

Debris from a convenience store is shown in the lot of a car wash along East State Street in Delta on Wednesday. A line of severe storms hit the area Tuesday night, packing high winds and pouring rain. (Laura Simon)

The storm's strength was evident in Delta, where the wind blew strips of metal and lumber from the roof of Delta One Stop, a grocery and general merchandise store, onto State Street and even into a nearby house.

An initial report to the National Weather Service that a home had been destroyed at Delta was inaccurate.

"We've been pushing metal and lumber out of the street all morning," said Eddie Cook, owner of Delta One Stop. "It came off the roof during the storm and what's left is the old, tarred roof that had been under the metal and lumber."

Removal of the outer roof caused water to leak into the store.

"It's fallen from the roof to the floor and it's run into the basement," said Diana Cook, Eddie Cook's wife. "We've got us a mess here."

The metal and lumber that blew from the roof hit a home on State Street owned by Jeremy and Elizabeth Henson.

"We'd been watching TV and the lights started flickering," said Elizabeth Henson. "When the storm was coming through it made a horrific noise, sort of like a train"

Before Jeremy Henson took cover in a bathroom with his family, he looked out the window of his front door into his enclosed front porch.

"There were some windows around the porch that had been broken by the wind," he said. "As I stood there looking, a jagged board shot through the side of the house. It was long enough that if it had gone all the way through, it might have hit me in the head."

The Hensons' home and vehicles were battered by debris from the roof of Delta One Stop, but Jeremy Henson said damage could have been worse.

"Our house was hit hard with metal and lumber," he said. "It put holes in the roof that we were able to cover with a tarp, but if those concrete storage units hadn't been next to us like they are, we could've had it real bad. Those units deflected a lot of wind and stuff from the roof of the One Stop."

The Hensons thanked friends and family who came to their aid almost immediately after the storm. They were supposed to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary Wednesday.

"I guess we'll be spending it cleaning up," Jeremy Henson said.

"But at least we're together," added Elizabeth Henson. "It could've been worse."

Scott County Signal staff writer Samantha Kluesner contributed to this report.


Pertinent address:

Delta, MO

Rockview, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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