Tornado cleanup under way south of Chicago in Coal City, Frankfort, Manhattan, Diamond

Staff will offer support to students struggling with the after-effects of the tornado when school resumes Tuesday morning.
November 19, 2013 4:31:09 AM PST
Tornadoes that ripped across the state of Illinois left behind extensive damage in cities like Diamond, Coal City, Manhattan and Frankfort.

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The cleanup didn't stop at nightfall. Crews continued to work Monday night to secure homes as much as possible. The Hammitts are among the residents with severe damage to their homes in Diamond.

"We have to find a place to live but it will come with time, probably in the next few days I would imagine," said Barb Hammitt, homeowner.

Diamond resident Casey Brown captured this video as the tornado torn through this community. The Mayor of Diamond didn't have damage to her home by knows what residents will need. She lost her home in the Plainfield tornado in 1990.

Residents is neighboring Coal City are already organizing support, as supplies are being donated at the United Methodist Church on Monday night. Some volunteers are dealing with the shock themselves. Mari Franklin's 7-year-old was visiting Diamond when the tornado hit. He was unharmed but scared.

"He was with my family but then to go there and help, he wasn't safe from this unimaginable thing that could happen," said Mari Franklin, whose son survived the tornado.

The curfew will continue Monday night from 8 pm. to 6 a.m., but the schools will be open on Tuesday morning. Staff will offer support to students struggling with the after-effects of the tornado when school resumes Tuesday morning.

"What we're anxious for is to get our kids back to school, try to get some normalcy for them, and provide whatever support they need," said Dr. Kent Bugg, Coal City United School District #1.

Earlier on Monday, families in hard-hit Diamond returned to their homes to survey the damage.

"My house is destroyed, destroyed completely. No roof, we were all huddled in the basement, over top of my kids. Telling them it's gonna be ok, but you're not sure if it's gonna be ok," said Danielle Cassana, tornado survivor.

Gov. Pat Quinn and the mayor of Diamond toured the area Monday afternoon. Mayor Teresa Kernc knows how these residents feel. She lost her home in Plainfield in 1990.

"I lost my home in a tornado, and I know what these people are going through. We want to make sure we make things as easy as possible for these people, and it's impossible to do, but we're going to do everything we can to help them through it," said Theresa Kernc, Diamond mayor.

Marilee Kane still has a sense of humor.

"Well, this was my bedroom. It has a nice view now," she said.

The roof of Kane's Diamond, Ill., home was ripped off when a tornado touched down Sunday afternoon. The building's second floor is barely standing.

"It's just devastating, but we're fine. And so that's what matters," Kane said.

The tornado scattered debris across Will and Grundy counties. The icy winds are making the task of cleaning up even more difficult for homeowners like Char Dillman.

"We're waiting for a lot of friends and family to come out and give us a hand. And it's like we stood out in the front and we stood out in the backyard, and where do you start?" the Coal City resident said.

All the tornado damage could be insurmountable, according to Mark Adair, so instead he's taking the cleanup "a little bit at a time." Adair's neighbor, Randy Miller. warned him about the twister.

"It got calm all the sudden outside, and I could just tell something wasn't right," Miller said. "I looked out the window and saw the tornado coming here across the field. Yelled for everybody to get in the basement and about the time we closed the door all the windows started busting out."

"We've got a piece of 2x4 protruding into my daughter's bedroom. If she'd been lying in bed, it probably would have hit her," Adair said.

David Frawley's shed was destroyed and his landscaping equipment was tossed across a cornfield in Manhattan, Ill. Large trees snapped around his property. He got a good look at the aftermath on Monday.

"I didn't want to walk out here last night," he said. "I got kicked in the face. It hurts."

Four people in this area were injured during Sunday's severe weather; the extent of their injuries is not known. At least 100 homes and commercial buildings were damaged. Tom Cirrencione has lived in the area for seven years. Broken glass covers his floors and furniture and the sky is visible through his living room.

"Thoroughly expected it would blow over and maybe miss a couple shingles. But it didn't," Cirrencione said. "It's surreal. You never think it's gonna happen. I guess the best thing out of it is just seeing everybody from the community come together and lend a hand."

Of the four people injured in the Diamond tornado, three of them are hospitalized in good condition and one was treated and released.

Officials urge people who want to help to contact agencies like the American Red Cross instead of coming to the tornado-ravaged areas, where there are still downed power lines and scattered debris.

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