Ottawa Still “Locked Down” After Tornado: “Streets Are Not Safe Yet”

CHICAGO (CBS) — Officials in Ottawa, Illinois, were asking volunteers to stay away from the city for now, as crews continue to assess and repair damage from Tuesday’s tornado, declaring “the streets are not safe yet.”

Police said a 76-year-old man, Wayne Tuntland, 76, was killed when a tree fell on him while he was standing with a group of people on State Street. Another man was seriously injured when a portion of a tree fell on him as well.

Officials in Ottawa said they are concerned more people could be injured in the wake of the storm. That’s why entry to the southern part of Ottawa has been blocked off.

“The streets are not safe yet. We just came from our briefing. The city and the village are not ready yet, and so at this point, they have the perimeters locked down,” LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency director Connie Brooks said.

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Onitha Hubbard rode out the storm in her Ottawa home. She said her son initially didn’t take the approaching system seriously.

“I heard the siren go off, and I told my son, I said, ‘We’ve got to get to the basement.’ ‘Oh, no, mom. No, mom’ ‘No, son, we’ve got to get to the basement,’” she said.

When the house started shaking, her son stopped arguing and joined her in the basement.

“He looked out the basement window, and he says, ‘Mom, the tree is on your truck.’ I said, ‘It ain’t only on my truck, it’s on your car, too,’” she said.

A massive tree that had stood for generations was no match for the tornado, but the good news was, when it fell, it narrowly missed Hubbard’s house.

The New Chalet Restaurant also lost a portion of its roof, forcing its owner to close indefinitely.

“Unbelievable,” Dave Park said. “The roof’s laying over on the neighbor’s house.”

Park has run the restaurant for 30 years. He said it feels like the kind of thing that happens to someone else, only now it happened to him.

Gov. Bruce Rauner was visiting Ottawa and neighboring Naplate on Wednesday to survey the damage, and offer support to the survivors.

He also visited 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. Five residents suffered minor injuries.

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 governor also has activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to assist with cleanup and repairs.

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