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May 4, 2002 - Belleville News Democrat

6 Whiteside classrooms unusable
from damage caused by tornado

By  Jennifer Kapiolani Saxton
and Jaime Ingle
______

   Eighth-graders at the new Whiteside Middle School will not be able to use at least six classrooms in August in the school wing damaged by a tornado last weekend.

   A low-grade tornado caused extensive damage in a confined area in Shiloh and east Belleville that included the new Whiteside Middle School and Villa Madero subdivision.

   And on Wednesday, a series of four low-level tornadoes touched down just south of Greenville in Bond County ahead of a large storm system, said Ron Przybylinski, science and operations officer for the National Weathe Service in Weldon Spring, MO.

   All the area tornadoes measured F1, the lower end on a scale of F0 to F5.  They packed winds of 73 to 112 mph, meteorologists said.

   Because of storm damage in Illinois, State Farm estimates it will receive about 10,000 auto claims resulting in nearly $27.5 million in payouts, and 4,500 household claims totaling about $22 million.

   "The last two years have been the most costly years for catastrophe in Illinois, and so far this year, we have already seen some pretty

  bad storms," said Joe Johnson, a State Farm spokesman.

   Whiteside Superintendent Karen Meng said Friday the school received $1 million to $2 million in damage when the storm destroyed eight of 14 rooms in the eighth-grade wind and ripped two heating and air-conditioning units loose and bounced them along the school's roof.

   "Six or seven of the classrooms will have to be reconstructed," she said.

   On Tuesday, Gov George Ryan declared St Clair County a state disaster area.  This was the seventh county in Illinois to be declared a disaster area since April 21, said Chris Tamminga, spokesman for Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

   A disaster declaration makes storm victims eligible for low interest loans and other assistance.

   As of Friday, the state had not declared Bond County a disaster area, but Tamminga said the damage is still being assessed and a decision may come this weekend.

   Initial damage reports show ive businesses sustained major damage in Greenville, while 14 businesses, 22 homes and 16 mobile homes had minor damage, Tamminga said.

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