Updated 04/10/15 – 12:19 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner confirmed two people have died in the tiny hamlet of Fairdale, Illinois, after a massive “wedge” tornado virtually destroyed the town.
At least 20 other people were injured in the storm, including six who spent the night at hospitals.
One of the dead has been identified as 67-year-old Geraldine Schultz, who was found inside her home. The second victim was identified as 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa, who was missing after the tornado hit, and later found dead in her home during a second search of the town Friday morning.
Among the damage, a restaurant was reduced to rubble, fences were torn apart, utility poles were snapped off, and several homes were destroyed, leaving dozens of families homeless.
The National Weather Service confirms two tornadoes touched down during a series of powerful storms Thursday evening. One hit Rochelle, a city of 9,500 people about 25 miles south of Rockford; the other hit Fairdale, a town of about 200 people, less than 20 miles southeast of Rockford.
Pictures and video emerged of a massive “wedge” tornado that swept through Fairdale, virtually destroying the entire town.
“This is unusual, not only to see in our area, it’s unusual to see in any area. There aren’t that many of these throughout the course of a year,” said CBS 2 Meteorologist Ed Curran. “Many times wedge tornadoes are very powerful, with wind speeds that get up to what we call EF4 or EF5 levels.”
According to the Enhanced Fujita Scale, EF4 tornadoes produce winds between 166 and 200 mph, while EF5 tornadoes produce winds over 200 mph.
Nearly all of the buildings in Fairdale were damaged to some extent, with many wiped out by the twister, which touched down around 7:15 p.m. Officials said at least 17 structures were destroyed, another 50 were damaged, out of about 75 total buildings in Fairdale.
Friday morning, officials said some people in the town had not yet been accounted for, but they stressed those people might not have been in the town at the time the twister hit. They were checking land records, and interviewing neighbors, in an effort to track everyone down.
Officials also said they have searched at least 71 buildings in Fairdale, to make sure they do not miss anyone, but the process is very slow, as they must sift through rubble by hand.