Cleanup, Repairs Begin After Tornadoes Leave 1 Dead In LaSalle County

CHICAGO (CBS) — The National Weather Service was sending out teams to confirm reports of several tornadoes touching down Tuesday afternoon and evening in LaSalle County, killing at least one person, and leaving behind extensive damage.

Tuesday night’s powerful storms ripped out trees and knocked down power lines. Ameren crews were working to restore power Wednesday morning.

CBS 2’s Ed Curran captured this video of the damage on Wednesday morning:

The National Weather Service confirmed at least one tornado touched down in and near Naplate and Ottawa in LaSalle County. Multiple tornadoes might have hit the area, as far west as the Putnam/LaSalle County border.

Naplate Fire Chief John Nevins said a tornado hit the village around 5 p.m. Tuesday in the village of about 500.

“We were fortunate enough that we only had minor injuries to some of the residents,” he said.

At least 50 of the 200 homes were damaged by the storm. The Pilkington glass factory also sustained significant damage, Nevins said.

“I don’t think there would have been any problem with flying glass or anything like that,” he said.

Utility companies have been working since Tuesday night to restore power and gas service to Naplate, according to Nevins.

Nevins said emergency crews have completed a search of the village, and officials are confident they have accounted for everyone. The chief said warning sirens activated about 15 minutes before the tornado struck, giving residents sufficient warning to take cover.

“It’s amazing, actually. Obviously, we’re very thankful. People are going to be disrupted in their lives by the damage that it caused them, but we’re really fortunate that there were just minor injuries,” he said. “We’re going to deal with it, and rebuild.”

Kim French took cover between two heavy appliances at her home when the storm hit.

“It’s bad. My windows are shattered, I have no roof. It’s just bad,” she said.

Some residents of Naplate were allowed to return to their homes by Wednesday morning, but others were staying with relatives or neighbors.

A funnel cloud also moved through neighboring Ottawa, where at least one person was killed and seven were injured.

Ottawa police said the man who was killed, Wayne Tuntland, 76, was standing on State Street with other people when a tree fell on them. Another man was seriously injured when a portion of a tree fell on him as well.

The storm caused extensive damage in Ottawa. Homes were blown apart and large trees were knocked down.

The Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter in the gym at Ottawa High School. While no one spent the night there, the Red Cross was preparing to serve a hot breakfast to storm victims on Wednesday.

Power was knocked out late Tuesday afternoon, but in the twilight, trucks were parked among the debris in the city of about 19,000 people.

“We’d ask that people don’t come to area. We are trying to keep area as secure as possible, assess damage. Again, constantly looking to make sure there’s no people injured, or anything like that,” Ottawa Police Capt. Dave Gualandri said.

David Johnson Sr. said his 31-year-old son David Jr. was critically injured when a tree fell on him. Now he’s just hoping his namesake can beat the odds and pull through.

“He sustained injuries to his head,” Johnson said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to assist with cleanup and repairs.

The governor also planned to survey the tornado damage in LaSalle County, and was set to visit the LaSalle County Convalescent Center in Ottawa, which was heavily damaged by the twister. The Red Cross said 68 residents of the nursing home were evacuated safely.

The National Weather Service has yet to estimate top wind speeds of the tornadoes that hit on Tuesday, but teams were being sent out Wednesday to assess the damage.

The storm also included baseball-sized hail in Ottawa.

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