CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) – Tales of resilience and survival are appearing out of a tragedy that swept Crawford County Friday night.
A deadly storm swept through the county leaving houses destroyed, cars overturned, and downed powerlines.
One of the homes destroyed was the home of Jo Ellen Russell who has lived in Robinson, Illinois for the past seven years.
“It was close and I knew it was close and I called the boys downstairs before it was real close. I said ‘you guys need to get downstairs!’ It just excelled very quickly after that,” Russell said.
Russell was pulled from underneath the pieces of what used to be her home with the help of first responders.
“Then I heard a loud roar and I was like basement guys! Like I said I have a broken hip [so] I don’t know how I got down the stairs but I didn’t get hurt,” Russell said.
Not too far away from Russell, was Paul Stouse.
He said he went down to his basement to take cover at 9:06 p.m. on Friday. By the time he came back up at 9:26 p.m., just 20 minutes later, his house was gone.
“I went to the basement, I sat down on the steps and I heard something go ‘thump’ and about three to five minutes later I heard crashing and crumbling and I smelled pine, roofing, and insulation and I told somebody that my house was gone,” Stouse said.
His first instinct after leaving his basement was to make sure his family was okay across the street.
“[They] were in the basement, the fire department was trying to find them, they didn’t know how to find the basement,” Stouse said.
Stouse was able to help first responders find the basement, leading them to safety and survival.
“Being across the street I said ‘I think it’s back here’ and they heard them knocking and brought them out,” Stouse said.
Stouse and Russell both praised first responders and how quickly they were able to act to keep them safe.
“It’s phenomenal the amount of people who have called me and reached out. Amazing, amazing, and outpour of support,” Stouse said.
You can keep up with the latest updates and recovery efforts on mywabashvalley.com.