Quinn declares 4 Ill. counties disaster areas

June 8, 2010 9:50:22 AM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn has declared four counties -- LaSalle, Putnam, Peoria and Livingston -- disaster areas after 15 tornadoes touched down in central and northern Illinois Saturday night.

The National Weather Service confirmed the total number of twisters Monday.

Many people were feeling overwhelmed by their losses, but there is gratitude that no lives were lost. Officials are still giving residents time to try to recover whatever possessions they can.

A 15-year resident of what used to be a mobile home park in Dwight, Ill., Joseph Alksanas spent the day picking through the debris, salvaging what he could. It is not much but he has insurance and right now he is more worried about his brother, the only person to be critically injured as a result of Saturday night's toranadoes.

"They did seven hours of surgery on his spinal cord yesterday. He can't feel his arms or his legs, he's got a broken neck," said Joseph Alksanas, whose home was destroyed.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Pat Quinn toured the 35-home trailer park. After meeting with residents and town officials, he declared four counties in Illinois state disaster areas, releasing funds to help with the cleanup.

"A lot of people have had their lives uprooted and we want to make sure we help them get back on their feet as soon as we can," said Gov. Quinn.

Twenty two miles west of Dwight, the city of Streator is also digging out from the tornadoes' destruction. Hardest hit is the southern end of the city where at least 30 homes were demolished and hundreds of residents are still without power.

"That's all I wanted, was my pictures. That's what meant most to me. Stuff from when I was a child that I brought to my home, just little things like that," said Hannah Macias, whose home was also destroyed.

Two houses down, Randy Simpson also spent the day digging for mementos. His 87-year-old grandmother, Irene, was trapped for nearly an hour before being pulled out by neighbors.

"It's just a house, we can replace that. There's not much left here for anything but, you know, we got her and that's what's important," said Simpson.

Streator's police chief say some of the cleanup will start Tuesday.

In St. Anne, there was also plenty of destruction but no loss of life as the National Weather Service reports at least 15 tornadoes touched down across central and northern Illinois Saturday night between 7:30 and 11 p.m.

Storm damaged sustained in other Ill. towns

Other parts of Illinois were also hit by the storms.The Peoria county sheriff's office says a tornado touched down in Elmwood, Illinois, about 180 miles southwest of Chicago. No injuries were reported, although the twister ripped through downtown Elmwood, eestroying buildings, branches and anything else in its path.

Saturday night, the mayor of Elmwood had officials going door to door to check on residents and major roads in the area were shut down.

In the town of Magnolia, just northeast of Peoria, several homes lost their roofs, large trees were uprooted, and power lines were downed.


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