High Winds Damage Factory, Knock Down Power Lines at Rantoul
By Jim Meadows
A spokeswoman for Rantoul Police says straight-line winds are to blame for the damage on the west side of town Thursday morning.
The storm caused damage in the industrial park west of the village, around 8 am. At 10:15 am, police were still at the scene. A portion of U.S. Route 136 and nearby streets in the area were closed to traffic.
LaQuata Shedd of Rantoul says she was working in the production area of the Conair Corporation Plant when the winds hit. She says the lights went off, and the emergency lights went on.
“We heard all types of rumbling and something all around, and it sounded like everything was going to crash,” said Shedd.
Shedd says she and her co-workers spent some time in the building’s emergency area, and then were sent home for the day. It was only then that she saw the damage to the front portion of the Conair building, as well as damage to nearby streets and power lines.
The News-Gazette reports that the storm winds also turned over at least two semitrailer trucks. The newspaper quotes Rantoul Police Chief Paul Farber as saying there were “no serious injuries to speak of”.
Besides Conair, the industrial park west of Rantoul is home to pork processor Rantoul Foods, Eagle Wings, Jeld-Wen and Charles Industries.
2:05 PM UPDATE: Several plants in the industrial park have cancelled shifts due to the storm damage, including Conair, Jeld-Wen, Combe Laboratories and Engineered Plastic Components. Combe and Engineered Plastic Components have cancelled the first shift for Friday.