FREEBURG, Ill. – A strong storm rolled through St. Clair County just before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The storm produced torrential rain and some strong wind gusts that damaged a historic building in Freeburg.
The Freeburg Fire Department got the call at 8:24 p.m.
“When we got here … saw the roof had been blown off. We did have some power lines down. We assessed the building. There were some people who were occupying it at the time, but no one was injured or trapped,” said Chief Hans Mueller, Freeburg Fire Department.
Resident Jake Howes lives behind the apartment building but damage to his home was minimal.
“I saw the entire roof was laying in front of my garage pretty much. All of the debris was everywhere. It was still raining a little bit so I couldn’t see and it was pretty dark,” Howes said.
This building was built in the 1870s as a schoolhouse and converted into an apartment building about 75 years ago. Everyone’s thankful no one was injured.
“Yeah, the property damage was significant to the apartment building and this is one of the oldest buildings in town, so that’s really sad,” Howesa said. “But at the end of the day, people’s safety is more important than property damage, so we’re just very grateful of that.”
The owners of the building have every intention of rebuilding as quickly as possible for their residents.
The damage in town was very isolated.
“The extent to most of the debris field was where we are standing right now and to the south. I know some of the neighbors had trampolines and stuff like that that all went towards the south,” Chief Mueller said.
Howes said the support from the community has been wonderful, but he’s not surprised.
“Our firefighters are the best and every single one of them I don’t think there was one that I didn’t see out there helping and volunteering,” he said. “And Smithton, our neighboring town, every single one of them was out too. The community just really came together like they always do.”
The building’s owners are thankful for the Freeburg Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, who arrived before them and handed out food vouchers, paid for hotel rooms, and just helped in any way they could.