Dark clouds, hail, and extreme wind gusts — some 75 to 80 miles per hour — sped through western Marion County between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Feb. 28, leaving a trail of debris through several farmsteads west of Hillsboro. Displaced buildings, mangled tin, broken windows, splintered trees, re-arranged yard furniture, and scattered shingles littered the ground at the farm homes of Bill and Janet Hein and Corey and Julie Janzen, one mile west of Hillsboro on Holly Road.
“We didn’t take any chances,” Janet Hein said. “We were in the basement and didn’t really see or hear anything until it was all over.”
Hein said she and husband Bill held a farm sale two years ago and only a few cats lived in the outbuildings when the storm hit last week. A feed room, three-sided calf shed, and a storage barn were completely mangled by the wind gusts or a possible tornado.
“The entire roof blew off the hay barn,” she said. “We found boards stuck straight up in the ground, and way out in the wheat field is the top of one of our grain bins.”
At Corey and Julie Janzen’s farm next door on Holly Road, trees, small sheds, barns, tin buildings, and an old outhouse suffered damage.
“I am just glad everyone is OK,” Janzen said. “The amount of cleanup to do is just overwhelming right now, but at least no-one got hurt.”
Janzen said she was in Goessel at the time of the storm, but her husband and son, Corey and Jared, were in the machine shed when the brunt of the storm hit.
“Corey had just driven his work truck into the shed to get it out of the hail,” she said. “He told me he and Jared were trying to hold the shed doors shut when the main blast hit.”
Janzen said a small tornado might have been involved.
“It’s just so weird how the storm came in from the west and broke off pine trees and dumped over my outhouse, but then at the barns the debris trail is turned a completely different direction and stuff is scattered south into the hedges and fields.”
Janzen said she was most upset about losing her old fashioned, two-seat outhouse in the storm.
“I’ve had this for nine years,” she said. “We moved it here with us from our last place, and I always decorate it for the seasons. You just can’t find original outhouses like that one anymore.”
The outhouse, usually located in the center of a circle drive, lay on its side near the wind-damaged barn after the storm passed through. Milk cans which used to flank either side of it were scattered all directions on the farmyard.
“I’m finding things in strange places,” Janzen said. “All of Jared’s balls and our stash of cans for recycling are down by the horse barn. I’ve found milk cans by the machine shed, down by the round pen, and even where the calf shed used to be. My watering can was behind the barn.”
A path of mangled tin stretched across the green wheat fields east of the Hein and Janzen farms, dotting a path to the western edge of the Carriage Hills subdivision in Hillsboro, just under a mile away.
Several residents there reported some damage from the strong storm.
“Darrell Driggers had quite a bit of damage,” Carriage Hills resident Kyle Cederburg said. “We had seven or eight windows broken out on the south side of the house. One window on the north side was broken by our deck furniture when the winds shifted around and smashed it into the house.”
Cederburg said he was home with his family when the storm hit and thought the damage was caused mostly by debris flying through the air.
“There was a lot of road chat just peppering the windows and house,” he said. “I guess we just thought it was wind as that is what they had forecast for us here.”
Several homeowners in the surrounding area also reported broken windows and tree limbs down. Electricity was out from 7:30 to 8:50 p.m. for many in the storm path.