Disaster: Deadly Storms Leave Huge Path Of Devastation
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UPDATED: 11/18/2013 11:55 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Officials continued to assess the damage across the state on Monday after a 300-mile long swath of violent storms exploded across Illinois on Sunday, leveling scores of neighborhoods, killing at least six people and injuring as many as 200 others.
Two of the tornadoes, including one in Washington and another in downstate New Minden, were rated powerful and rare EF-4 storms. The storms were the deadliest ever for the month of November in Illinois.
Several counties were declared disaster areas and Gov. Pat Quinn plans to tour damaged towns on Monday. National Weather Service crews are heading out to survey storm damage across Illinois.
Quinn said the state will help tornado-ravaged communities across Illinois with “every asset we have.”
In the town of Washington, population about 15,000 located east of Peoria, areas were left unrecognizable after a tornado cut through the town. The National Weather Service had reports of up to 80 tornadoes across the Midwest on Sunday.
Twisted metal and shredded lumber were scattered across the landscape where homes and businesses once stood.
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One of the dead was a 51-year-old man from Washington. Five others were killed in storms in southern Illinois.
“The whole neighborhood’s gone. The wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house,” said Washington resident Michael Perdun.
The mayor of Washington said between 250 and 500 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Mayor Gary Manier said residents won’t be allowed back into their homes on Monday and may not be allowed back Tuesday, either.
Meteorologists say a tornado that touched down in southern Illinois near New Minden had a preliminary strength rating of an EF-4.
That means it had winds between 166 and 200 miles per hour. The Washington County community is about 45 miles southeast of St. Louis. Two people were killed there.
The storms extended from Chicago--where the Bears game was delayed for two hours–all the way to the southern portion of the state.
Several suburbs reported strong storms and damage, but nothing on the scale found farther to the south.
In Coal City, officials believe an EF-2 tornado hit the area, leaving four people injured. In the neighboring town of Diamond, hundreds of homes were damaged. Warning sirens that sounded likely saved many lives, officials said.
The owner of a tobacco shop scrambled for cover at the Christian Life Assembly Church as the storms approached.
“Someone was praying for us, you know, and it was answered at the right time,” said Muhammad Ali.
Many homeowners will be forced to start all over.
Quinn declared seven Illinois counties disaster areas: Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties.
The Illinois National Guard dispatched firefighters to Washington to search for survivors. There were reports of people trapped in damaged buildings.
Area hospitals were also trying to set up a temporary emergency medical care facility in Washington.
One official in a nearby hospital said it remained unclear how many people were injured or the severity of those injuries.
Tens of thousands of customers were left without power following the storms.