MATTOON, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) – The severe weather outbreak on December 10th and 11th 2021 was a historic event. Across the Wabash Valley there was one tornado touchdown and a few just west of the area. 

Station Meteorologist Savanna Brito spoke with some residents of Coles County that say they were scared but are thankful so many community members are still helping each other.

“Just thankful we were all still here,” said Gene Cox who lives in Coles County and whose home was severely damaged.

It was an active start last weekend with storms rolling across the Midwest and in areas across the south. Nationwide there were more than 500 storm reports. Locally there were around 30, with most being power outages and gusty winds, but there was an EF2 tornado did touchdown in Coles County, Ill., according to the National Weather Service. 

Jim Hilgenberg, the Director of Coles County Emergency Management Agency, said there were about five to six homes that were severely damaged but several other places also saw some tornado damage.

“We don’t have a said dollar amount but there are several residents, between 20-25 different entities that were damaged.” Hilgenberg said.

Alton Warehousing in Mattoon was a building that damaged by the tornado, but Hilgenberg said this was not the first time Alton had seen damage.

“A few years ago it had the roof blown off of it, but it’s kind of a little more than that this time,” he said.

Cox, whose house was severely damaged, said they’ve seen storms before in the area, but not as bad as this one.

“It was terrifying, I mean the wind coming through the house around the house, the winds I assume, it was just humming, terribly loud.” Cox said.

The first thing the Cox family noticed when stepping outside, was that the items in their attic were all over their backyard and that the roof was gone. He said he was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came out to help him.

“Hundreds. All kinds of people, yes,” Cox said. 

The last time our area saw an EF2 tornado or greater was back in June 2019. 

Nathan Ward, also a resident of Coles County, said it’s been incredible how many community members have come together during these tough times to help out.

“People from all over the community, even some that wasn’t even affected by the storms came out and helped people clean up and are still helping people clean up and donating clothes, and places to sleep, food, water, it’s just awesome that this community has came together.” Ward said.

Other places that were hit very hard from this system were in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.