Washington Residents Clean Up After Weekend Tornado

By Gina Ford

July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 9, 2010 at 10:50 PM CDT

Last weekend's tornadoes pummeled Central Illinois leaving many neighborhoods and downtowns leveled.

But two Washington families say few know about the twister that touched down just long enough to destroy their homes and a small business.

Four days after the storm hit, Keith Bachman is still involved in a massive clean-up effort collecting debris and burning it after a tornado touched down on his farm just off Main Street in Washington.

"The farmstead, all of the out-buildings leveled except for a couple of bins and the roof off our house," said Bachman.

He and his wife were visiting family in Ohio when the storm hit. Although the house is not flattened like most of their farm buildings, they still have to relocate to an apartment because of the damage.

"We'll be displaced for at least six months, so it's gonna be the first of the year before we're able to possibly move back in."

The farmer said luckily, he had finished planting his crops and most of the field work for the growing season before the storm.

"Hopefully we'll have the harvest equipment ready to go by the time the corn and soy beans are ready to harvest," said Bachman.

Eye witnesses say this tornado was only on the ground for about a mile and a half and destroyed the Bachman farm last. But not before leveling a small business and the Gaumer family home.

"All of our trees were downed. There was glass everywhere, my husband's car was here, the windows busted out, it actually moved," said Carrie Gaumer.

She and her family were at a birthday party Saturday evening when the tornado hit their home.

"It's almost like the storm just dropped on our house. The fields around us are fine, the neighbors next to us, they're not touched."

But when the Gaumers got home that night, they found 30 foot trees had penetrated their house, one in their bedroom, another in the side of the garage.

"The tornado had taken the pine trees, just twisted then off and sent them into our home like missiles," said Gaumer.

And although both families are displaced, they said the support from others around them has been tremendous during the clean-up process.

"Friends and neighbors and actually even some strangers that I've never met before that stopped and offered a hand," said Bachman.

Most of all, they feel fortunate they were not home when the twister hit.

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