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Storm knocks over school bus; No serious injuries

Photo submitted by Loves Park, Ill, resident. Courtesy WTVO

November 22, 2010 8:54:07 PM PST
At least one tornado tore through towns northwest of Chicago Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

There were reports of several tornado touchdowns in Illinois and in Wisconsin. The National Weather Service said officials won't be able to confirm those reports until Tuesday when they can assess the damage.

No serious injuries were reported after the storm knocked over a school bus near Caledonia, which is about 80 miles northwest of Chicago. Five children and a bus driver were onboard, but no one suffered life-threatening injuries. They were treated for minor back pain in nearby Loves Park.

A resident in Loves Park, Ill., (just outside of Rockford) captured video of a tornado and posted it on the YouTube website. CLICK HERE to watch the entire video.

Melissa Ontjes, a Caledonia resident, her two horses and countless people are counting their blessings after coming uncomfortably close to a tornado.

"My mom was in the basement. The whole house, she said, was shaking. She heard that freight train sound everyone talks about," said Ontjes.

When they emerged, they found half their roof ripped away, a car's windows shattered and trees torn from their roots. A street sign from a block away was in their back yard and a barn was destroyed. Mysteriously, the haystacks inside didn't even tip over.

"I grew up here. This has been my house for 28 years. I'm just in shock," said Ontjes.

"It's just a mess. We have a barn down, a house down, several roofs are damaged. Metal buildings are wrapped around trees. Trees are down. I haven't been down Main Street, but that seems to be the path it took. The school wasn't damaged at all," said Joanne Fritz, Caledonia resident. She said fire crews are now going door-to-door to check on homes that were damaged as a precautionary. They're offering food and shelter at the Poplar Grove Fire Station.

"Most of the damage is to Caledonia itself, wires, trees down there in the village," said Lt. Perry Gay, Boone County Sheriff's Department.

The estimated 1/2 mile wide tornado touched the ground near Argyle Road and Harlem Road near Caledonia, according to the NWS. Many residents are without power due to toppled lines. ComEd utility spokesman Paul Callighan says some 42,200 customers lost power from northern Winnebago County east to Belvidere.

Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg said a tornado also touched down in his community. "Everybody's on the scene and right now we're clearing the roads and tree debris . . . as far as we know there aren't any severe injuries."

"This is a camping headlamp. Since we camp, we had several and that's definitelyhandy at a time like this," said Michelle Hook, Loves Park resident.

As the funnel cloud took shape, marching toward Rockford, some couldn't resist recording the rare November tornado.

"I stood out there like the smart man I am and filmed it," said Jim Acheson.

Acheson took video as the tornado moved away from his home.

"Right when it hit, the wind died for the most part, there was no rain, it passed through to the northeast, then it cleared up," said Acheson.

Also, a trained spotter saw a funnel cloud about two miles west of the Motorola plant in Harvard, Ill., according to the National Weather Service.

Another tornado may have touched down in the town of Linn, Wisc., where several homes and farm buildings were damaged. Linn is about 65 miles northwest of Chicago.

The police chief in Linn says power lines were downed and roads are closed because of damage. But no one was hurt.

One man said he didn't have time to get to safety. He sat inside his truck as the storm moved through.

"I had pine trees you know 50-foot pine trees in my backyard that went on the other side of that shop. They went 3-to-400 feet before they hit the ground," said Kelly Elliott.


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