HIGHLAND, Ill. – People in the bi-state are cleaning up after Saturday’s storms brought at least eight tornadoes across the area.
One business in Highland, Illinois, is waiting on the National Weather Service to confirm a tornado ripped through their barn. The riding instructor at Highland Saddle Club said one of the horses tragically did not survive the storm.
“It was just devastation. I knew it was wrecked, and my immediate concern was that none of the horses were injured, which unfortunately was not the case,” said Michele Jones, a riding instructor at Highland Saddle Club.
Kevin Gleason is the owner of Highland Saddle Club. He and his wife had just gotten home from celebrating their anniversary when the storm hit.
“We waited a few minutes after the roar stopped, then we went outside, and literally we had horses loose on the property and fences down,” Gleason said. “I feel a large part of my life is gone.”
The entire roof needs to be replaced. Gleason increased his insurance coverage last year but said the paperwork was never filed.
“We’re going to be appealing to the insurance company to make good on their situation where they dropped the ball and didn’t follow through with what I asked them to do,” Gleason said.
He said summer is the busiest time of year, but everything is put on hold.
“I have no business left. I have 130-plus families riding here. I don’t have an arena to teach inside,” Jones said. “I can teach outside when things calm down, but that’s very depending on weather around here.”
She said she hopes the community will help save the business.
“It’s not just a barn; it’s family. I love these kids. A lot of them have grown up with me and have kids of their own now,” Jones said. “I have kids with special needs that ride out here… This is just a great place for kids to be and adults as well. It’s just a relief from all the day-to-day business, so we need to get it rebuilt.”