Residents of Elgin Avenue sort through debris after a tornado struck on November 17, 2013 in Washington, Illinois. Several tornadoes touched down across the Midwest today with at least three people reported dead in Illinois. (Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
CHICAGO (CBS) — The tornado that leveled the town of Washington contained winds between 170 and 190 miles per hour.
A preliminary survey by the National Weather Service, rates the tornado a powerful EF-4.
That’s the second-highest rating on the EF scale.
A survey team office will be doing a more complete survey of the damage today.
Washington is a town of about 15,000 people located east of Peoria in Tazewell County.
Steve Bucher and his wife managed to get to their basement just before the tornado ripped their house open.
“In about 30 to 45 seconds, the house was literally vibrating from the intensity,” he said. “The next thing you know, everything was collapsing. Bam, it was gone.”
One person has been killed and at least 75 were injured in the storm.
The reality of the devastation is still sinking in for many tornado victims.
“I think I have gotten a little over the shock but I still think I am in shock and I don’t think I’m going to get over it anytime soon,” said tornado victim Chelsey Tessendorf.
Chelsey Tessendorf and her fiancée haven’t been back to their home since Sunday. They haven’t been allowed to go back.
“FEMA closed everything down and they are going through it with a bulldozer so I don’t know if anything is going to be left,” said Tessendorf.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn toured the damage in Washington Monday. According to the White House, President Barack Obama called both Quinn and Washington Mayor to receive an update on the response to the severe weather and to express his gratitude for those people working to respond to the disaster.
Another storm in downstate New Minden, near St. Louis, was also rated an EF-4. Two people were killed in that storm.