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‘Someone had a vengeance out for Rockford’: Residents react after small town rocked by hailstorm

Aug. 12, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:25 p.m.

By Mathew Callaghan Spokesman-Review

When Doug St. George checked outside his Rockford home Thursday, the ground made him think it was Christmas.

“Out here was just a river,” St. George said, gesturing to the street in front of his house that had been covered in oversized hailstones after Thursday evening’s storm.

Residents were still assessing the damage the day after the intense hailstorm pelted the town.

Tammie Fenn, who works at Rockford Mini Mart, compared the storm to a hurricane.

“It was just a nightmare,” Fenn said, “The wind was horrible and the rain was blowing so hard we locked the door. And it (the rain) was coming in faster then I could mop it up.

“We had customers still in the store that wouldn’t venture out ‘cause it was that dangerous looking.”

Another Rockford citizen, Karen Trejbal, was concerned the windows in her house were going to blow out due to the high winds.

Many of the shingles that once laid on the roof of her house were ripped off in huge chunks during the storm.

“I thought our house was going to blow over,” Trejbal said .

St. George said he couldn’t even see the house across the street from him when the storm was at its worst. St. George believes he’s relatively lucky, as his house sustained minimal damage.

Other residents were not so lucky. One neighbor’s house flooded, and many other houses in the town had a tree fall on them.

The damage done to Rockford is evident just from driving around. Many residents, including Heidi Johnson, the town clerk, said she’s spoken to people in their 80s who have lived in Rockford for a long time and had never seen anything like the storm that hit Thursday.

To Johnson, the path of the storm was unique, as most of the outskirts of town weren’t hit that badly. Johnson has a farm 6 miles from town that wasn’t affected nearly as much as the town was.

“It seems like someone had a vengeance out for Rockford last night,” Johnson said.

While the storm was terrifying, the community’s reaction and teamwork has been great, according to multiple Rockford residents.

“Everybody in Rockford just jumped in and started cleaning up,” Trejbal said.

Many farmers brought there heavy machinery to help clear roads. Many other residents directed traffic and checked on their neighbors.

Johnson said she has been going around Rockford to check on elderly people who don’t have family there to care for them. She wants to make sure everyone is doing all right.

“We’re really fortunate no one’s been injured,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson and Trejbal, town residents have been focused on cleaning the Rockford City Park in preparation for Rockford’s car show Saturday.

St. George said everybody just helps everybody in Rockford.

“We’ll be back to normal in a week or two,” he said.

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