Midwest tornado outbreak kills 6; widespread damage in suburbs, downstate Washington, Illinois

November 17, 2013 (CHICAGO)

PHOTOS: Storm, tornado damage in Frankfort, Washington, Pekin, Coal City, Illinois

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The IEMA says 11 counties in Illinois have reported tornado touchdowns, and the National Weather Service has confirmed tornados in seven counties as of Sunday night.

A tornado was spotted on the ground in Coal City, Ill., and the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in southwest suburban Frankfort. Weather service officials confirmed that a tornado touched down just before 11 a.m. near the central Illinois community of East Peoria, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. Within an hour, the weather service said that tornadoes had touched down in Washington, Metamora, Morton and other central Illinois communities, though officials could not say whether it was one tornado touching down or several.

In Grundy County, Coal City officials reported widespread property damage, with 100 buildings affected by the possible tornado and semis overturned. The worst damage appears to have been in the Diamond Estates subdivision. All of the main roads accessing Coal City have been blocked off due to the large number of downed power lines. However, the city reported only 4 storm-related injuries and no fatalities. The United Methodist Church in Coal City is providing food and shelter for those who have lost their homes, Pastor Tom Logsdon said. Classes have also been canceled for the entire Coal City school district on Monday.

"We've got broken windows, part of our roof is off, our car was over there in our driveway and ended up in our front yard," said Char Dillman, Coal City resident.

In LaSalle County, a tornado touched down in the area, damaging several homes. One man says he and his family took shelter in the basement, and when the storm passed he found his home was destroyed.

"My wife and my children and my sister-in-law. They were in the basement. Fortunately. Yes, fortunately. The tornado took the house down. It's terrible," said Brian Jaden, whose home was destroyed by a tornado.

St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria told Eyewitness News 55 patients were treated for storm-related injuries.

A Washington resident says a tornado wiped out his house and his entire neighborhood in a matter of seconds. One person was confirmed dead in that town.

Town officials in Manhattan, Illinois, reported a funnel cloud in the area of Burns Road. Seven homes there reported structural damage, and one was leveled. There were no reports of injuries, but a horse was rescued. Emergency officials are blocking off area roads due to downed power lines.

The spokesperson for the City of Harvey reported that an entire roof was lifted and destroyed from a home.

The Red Cross has opened shelters in southern Cook County and another in Grundy County to provide food and shelter to those affected by the storm. In addition, four more shelters are open in central Illinois where the communities of Washington and Pekin were hit hard. Locations include:

  • New Community Church - 14801 Lincoln Ave. in Dolton

  • Coal City High School – 655 W. Division St. in Coal City

  • Crossroads United Methodist Church – 1420 N. Main St in Washington

  • Evangelical United Methodist Church – 401 Main St in Washington

  • First United Methodist Church – 154 E. Washington St in East Peoria

  • Avanti's Dome – 3105 Griffin Avenue in Pekin

Illinois State Police reported flooding on 1-290 at 25th Avenue in both directions, and on the Kennedy Expressway southbound at Keeler. There were partial lane closures on both expressways.

The FAA reports that more than 270 flights were canceled at O'Hare Airport, and flights were delayed an average of three hours. At Midway, the FAA said delays were 45 minutes on average.

ComEd said 193,000 customers were affected by the storms, with 46,000 still without power as of 10 p.m. Sunday night. Anyone without power can text "OUT" to 26633 to report a power outage to ComEd.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn issued the following statement regarding severe weather across the state:

"Today's severe weather warnings and storms across Illinois are very serious. I urge everyone to pay attention to all weather alerts and stay home and inside if possible. Driving during these severe conditions is extremely dangerous. All residents should stay off the roads until these storms and flood warnings subside."

The governor's office also says a list of road closures caused by the storms is available at www.dot.il.gov/road/roadClosures.htm.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) released a written statement on Sunday night regarding the severe weather outbreak: "My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by today's severe storms. I am receiving regular updates from Illinois emergency officials and local leaders including those from Washington, Illinois – one of the areas that was hardest hit today. While we don't yet know the full extent of the damage, it is clear that coordinated local, state and federal resources will be needed to rebuild. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in that effort."

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