One dead and at least eight injured as ‘powerful and dangerous’ tornadoes tear through Midwest leaving trail of destruction with dozens of homes leveled and people trapped in wreckage
- National Weather Service confirmed tornado was on the ground and urged residents on Twitter to ‘seek shelter’
- One person was reported killed and eight others injured in Fairdale, Illinois
- Out of the 75 homes in the village of about 150 residents, 15-20 were destroyed
- A dozen people found themselves trapped when a Rochelle restaurant collapsed
- Tornado was part of a storm that tracked across at least five counties
- Storm forced cancellation of more than 850 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and dozens of others at Midway Airport
Powerful tornadoes ripped through central Illinois Thursday night, killing at least one person, injuring eight others and leaving a 50-mile trail of devastation in the region. One person was killed in the tiny community of Fairdale, James Joseph with the Illinois Department of Emergency Management said. Eight others were taken to area hospitals for injuries, DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said in a statement. Authorities were still working near midnight to account for every resident, he said. Out of the approximately 75 homes in the village of about 150 residents, 15-20 were destroyed, Scott said. Rockford Fire Department division chief Matthew Knott told ABC7-TV earlier that ‘every single’ structure in Fairdale has been damaged. He says ‘most’ have been flattened.
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Tornado funnels are seen making their way through the Midwest Thursday evening, leaving a trail of destruction
‘This town is absolutely devastated,’ Knott added. Emergency personnel were going house to house in the dark Thursday night, sorting through debris and looking for other victims. The National Weather Service confirmed at 7pm the tornado was on the ground and urged residents on Twitter to ‘seek shelter immediately if in the path of this dangerous storm.’ Patti Thompson, a state emergency management spokeswoman, said the twister claimed one life in Fairdale, Illinois. In Rochelle, Ogle County’s Sheriff’s dispatchers reported multiple injures and damage. Sheriff Brian Van Vickle said in a news conference that about 20 homes there were severely damaged or destroyed, but no deaths or significant injuries were reported. Ogle County is adjacent to DeKalb County. Robin Biggs, an employee at the Super 8 motel in nearby Rochelle, said she took video of the storm, which she said ‘took everything out in its path.’
‘I have lived her 18 years and I have never seen a tornado that big or stay on the ground that long,’ she said. ‘What we have is a small one touching the ground and going right back up, but this just stayed down and went all the way across the horizon.’ Koleen Kessen, who works at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Rochelle, said she went outside and spotted the tornado a few miles away after hearing sirens. She said hotel guests told her the tornado leveled a restaurant.
The Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, citing fire officials, reported that 14 people who had been trapped inside Grubsteakers restaurant in Rochelle had since been rescued. The newspaper reported the restaurant collapsed during the storm. Raymond Kramer, 81, found himself trapped in the basement of the eatery along with 11 other people for about 90 minutes, reported ABC 7 Chicago. ‘When the tornado hit, we all got a dust bath. Everyone in there got shattered with dust and debris falling out of the rafters,’ Kramer told the station.
Trees were uprooted, power lines were down and debris was everywhere surrounding the restaurant Thursday night. The tornado was part of a storm that tracked across at least five counties, according to the National Weather Service. Radar and reports from trained spotters also show the storms produced ‘at the very least’ one other tornado in northern Illinois. Three damage survey teams will assess the areas tomorrow to determine the exact location and magnitude of the tornadoes. The National Weather Service’s ‘enhanced risk’ area stretched from northeast Texas to Michigan, Wisconsin and across the upper Midwest. Forecasters say Philadelphia, Washington and other parts of the Atlantic coast could see the same weather patterns Friday, including Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters golf tournament is taking place through the weekend. Winnebago County Sheriff’s spokesman Ken DeCoster said funnel clouds also were spotted near Rockford a few miles north but did not touch down. However, television footage showed multiple homes damaged in the unincorporated community of Fairdale.
TV footage from Fairdale, where one person was confirmed killed, showed first responders sorting through debris in what appeared to be a residential area. The system, packing hail and damaging winds, was headed east as storms rumbled through the Midwest and Plains during the region’s first widespread bout of severe weather.The severe weather forced the cancellation of more than 850 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and dozens of others at the city’s Midway International Airport. The Weather Service in Davenport, Iowa, said it had received multiple reports of tornadoes in Scott and Clinton counties in the far eastern part of the state but no reports of injuries. Minor injuries were reported Thursday in central Missouri when storms toppled trees, utility poles and billboards.
The National Weather Service’s ‘enhanced risk’ area stretched from northeast Texas to Michigan, Wisconsin and across the upper Midwest. Forecasters say Philadelphia, Washington and other parts of the Atlantic coast could see the same weather patterns Friday, including Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters golf tournament is taking place through the weekend.
‘It’s quite an expansive area,’ said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. In central Indiana, a 75-year-old woman died Wednesday night after being swept into a rain-swollen creek near Indianapolis. Pittsboro Fire Chief Bill Zeunik said the woman, identified as Doris D. Martin, was clearing debris from a water-filled ditch in her front yard along with her husband when she fell in and was swept away into a drainage pipe.
Martin’s body was found in a creek nearly a mile away.
In Wisconsin, an interstate north of Milwaukee was closed for several hours Thursday morning after several vehicles became partially submerged in flood water due to heavy rain. And in Michigan, lightning strikes caused a fire at a mobile home and a fire place explosion, according to authorities. No one was injured in either incident. By mid-afternoon, temperatures in downtown St. Louis topped 80 degrees under bright sunshine. The balmy burst arrived in stark contrast to temperatures in parts of the northeast; freezing drizzle in New Hampshire delayed some school openings and more than 2 inches of snow postponed the first game of the season for the Portland Sea Dogs in Portland, Maine.