Cleanup Begins After Boone County Tornado

CALEDONIA, Ill. (CBS) — Residents in the small town of Caledonia – in Boone County near Rockford – were counting their blessings Tuesday, a day after a powerful tornado hit their homes, but left no one seriously hurt.

The tornado tore the roof off of one home, leaving it laying in the yard, just one example of the homes and buildings damaged on Monday.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports that there were many more like that home, and one amazing story of a resident narrowly escaping harm.

“When I looked across the street, something told me it wasn’t right,” Eric LaRue said.

He stared death in the face Monday afternoon when he looked out the window to see a tornado barreling down on his house. He knew he only had seconds to save his girlfriend, her 6-year-old daughter Kiley and their dog.

“I just screamed and ran and did everything I could … and got them out of that room. … I actually threw them out of that room,” LaRue said.

Seconds later, the tornado destroyed that room.

“I fell down the stairs and my girlfriend slid down with her daughter on her lap and at one point it was pretty intense,” LaRue said. “They were hanging onto me and I was hanging onto them and I actually grabbed onto the hot water heater because of the way the wind was coming.”

Half the house was destroyed by the tornado. The home sits right off Main Street in Calendonia, a street left littered with damaged homes and debris after the storm.

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The village’s storm shed also was destroyed.

Sue Yakey’s grain mill was severely damaged, part of it bent in half like a wire. Her shed was destroyed, but her house was still standing about 20 feet away.

“I think probably what saved it was the grain bin. It took a lot of the hit,” Yakey said.

Boone County’s emergency management coordinator said it’s too soon to give an estimate on the cost of damages. But everyone involved in cleaning up was just glad everyone is okay, especially considering it was the second tornado to hit the area in four years.

The tornado also left a school bus driver and five children to the hospital when it flipped over a school bus in Loves Park.

The children all attended a middle school in Rockford. Four of the five children complained of minor back pain as they were being helped out of the bus, but Winnebago County Deputy Chief Sheriff Don Gasparini said none of their injuries appeared major.

The students were taken to local hospitals, Rockford Public School District spokesman Mark Bonne said. Bonne declined to say which schools the students attended, but he said the bus was bound for Caledonia.

Tornadoes also caused damage in southern Wisconsin. CBS affiliate WDJT-TV in Milwaukee reports that a tornado struck in Walworth County, forcing authorities to close some roads.

Another hit in the Union Grove area in Racine County, and some semi-trailer trucks were reportedly blown over, WDJT reported. Some parts of Interstate 94 had to be closed due to debris.

While the actual tornado was a fair distance away from the Chicago area, tornado warnings were issued for several closer counties. A tornado warning was issued for McHenry County after a twister was spotted north of Harvard headed toward Hebron and Richmond, according to the Northwest Herald.

Warning sirens were reportedly heard in some other suburban areas, including Naperville.

Tornado warnings were also issued in Kenosha and Racine counties in Wisconsin.

  • Jean SmilingCoyote

    This tornado was rated only EF2 on a scale from 0 to 5. If you’re going to call it “powerful,” what adjectives will you apply to EF3, EF4, and EF5 tornadoes? Do you have a list? I hope so, because as far as we humans are concerned, all tornadoes might well be called “powerful.” To keep this one in perspective, “moderate” would have been a better adjective.

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