Tornadoes In Illinois Cause ‘Severe Damage’
A line of storms moving through the country's midsection has already produced a few damaging tornadoes and The National Weather Service predicts that major severe weather could break out as the system moves east.
"Numerous fast-moving thunderstorms, capable of producing strong tornadoes along with widespread damaging winds and large hail, will move across portions of the middle Mississippi and Ohio Valley region and the southern Great Lakes region for the remainder of today into this evening," the Weather Service reports.
In Illinois, a series of tornadoes raked the outskirts of Peoria. Washington, Ill. has so far been the hardest hit with reports of entire blocks of homes leveled.
Images show a landscape of fallen trees and homes reduced to rubble.
The Peoria Journal-Star reports that dozens are injured and the national guard and rescue teams are on the scene. Jonathon E. Monken, the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, tells CNN that the storms have killed at least two people in his state.
The Illinois National Guard is dispatching 10 firefighters to Washington to search for survivors of a powerful tornado.
A news release by the National Guard follows reports that people were trapped in buildings after Sunday's severe weather.
Area hospitals were also trying to set up a temporary emergency medical care facility in Washington. One official in a nearby hospital says it remains unclear how many people were injured or the severity of those injuries. Steve Brewer of the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois in Peoria says a few people have come to the hospital and about 15 more had gone to another area hospital.
Alex Rusciano, of Illinois Public radio member station WCBU says the tornado that tore through Washington, destroyed entire blocks of homes.
Rusciano spoke to Susan Newton, who lives in one of the hard-hit neighborhoods.
"We have neighbors that have lost their entire home, and last night we were at a dinner party at friends of ours, and their home is gone," Newton told him. "Gone. There's nothing left."
Washington resident Michael Perdun tells The Associated Press that when he heard the sound of the tornado bearing down on his neighborhood Sunday morning he only had time to run downstairs, grab his 10-year-old daughter and crouch in the laundry room until the tornado swept through. He says when he walked up the stairs only the wall of his fireplace was standing.
A Washington alderman tells Chicago's WBBM Radio that several people were injured and hundreds of homes were damaged.
Update at 4:47 p.m. ET. 109 Tornado Warnings:
Just how large and wide has this storm system cut? Over the course of the day, the Weather Service has issued 109 tornado warnings, which should give you an idea.
They've posted a map here.
U.S. Sen Dick Durbin issued a statement late Sunday afternoon, sending thoughts and prayers to all those effected.
"I am receiving regular updates from Illinois emergency officials and local leaders including those from Washington, Illinois – one of the areas that was hardest hit today," he said. "While we don’t yet know the full extent of the damage, it is clear that coordinated local, state and federal resources will be needed to rebuild. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in that effort.”
WJBC Radio reports that ISU spokesman Jay Groves says three off campus apartment buildings had minor damage. That includes one building where part of a roof came off. No one was hurt.
Bad weather took control of the Baltimore at Chicago football game. Play was stopped in the first quarter with the Ravens leading 10-0 when heavy rain and high winds hit Soldier Field. The game was suspended for almost two hours before it resumed under blue skies.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is warning Hoosiers to take cover from a dangerous line of thunderstorms packing tornadoes.
Pence says the cities of Washington in southwestern Indiana and Lebanon in central Indiana have sustained significant damage, but he doesn't have specific information yet.
Harrisburg and other southern Illinois communities affected by a deadly tornado in February are getting up to $13 million in state and Small Business Administration aid.
Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced Monday that the help includes reimbursements to local governments for some of their disaster-related expenses and road improvements. The aid also involves grants for home repairs and low-interest loans to storm-affected businesses.
Seven people were killed by the twister that tore through Harrisburg on Feb. 29.
Since then, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's request for help from U.S. taxpayers in the recovery effort.
Quinn says recovery from the tornado won't happen overnight but the assistance package detailed Monday will help those hurt by the storm to rebuild their lives.
(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other lawmakers plan to meet this week with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to find out why it won't help southern Illinois residents hurt by the recent tornado.
They'll meet Wednesday with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in Washington, D.C.
Durbin spokeswoman Christina Angarola says the senator wants to know how the decision was made and will ask Fugate to reconsider "some elements." She didn't say what those were.
FEMA spokesman Mark Peterson says the agency doesn't put a dollar value on homeowners' losses, but he says enough insurance and other resources exist within the state to recover from the disaster.
Peterson says the agency is determining now whether local governments qualify for help - which requires at least $12 million in expenses and damages.
Indiana authorities say at least 14 people have been killed in violent storms that spawned tornadoes across a wide swath of southern Indiana. The twisters were spawned by powerful storms that stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. The death toll in Kentucky and Ohio, as well as Indiana, is at least 31.
Indiana State Police Sergeant Rod Russell said late Friday that four people had been killed in Washington County. He didn't have details about where they were or how they died.
Earlier, authorities said four people were killed in the Chelsea area, three people died in Scott County, two people were killed in nearby Ripley County and one person had died in Henryville.
Authorities say three schools in Henryville have been destroyed. The roof of the high school has been sheared off. Sara Reschar of West Clark Community Schools says only a handful of students were in the high school when the tornado struck. The rest had been sent home for the day. Had more students been in the school, Reschar says, "they all would have been gone.''
Images from WLKY showed a mangled school bus protruding from the side of a one-story building where it appeared to have been tossed by a tornado.
Officials warn the death toll could rise once search and rescue crews begin to comb through the town in daylight.
The Congressman who represents Henryville and Marysville, Indiana is working with the federal government to help areas ravaged by severe storms Friday.
Staff for U.S. Representative Todd Young held a conference call with FEMA officials Friday. They've also been consulting with U.S. Representative Billy Long's office on disaster response. Long represents Joplin, Missouri which was virtually destroyed by tornadoes last year.
One of Young's top aides also spent Friday night in Henryville working with local law enforcement.
Young spokesman Trevor Foughty said his staff will also likely set up a mobile office to help victims file property damage assessment forms. The forms are used to help determine the federal relief that is sent to the area.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mitch Daniels traveled southern Indiana Saturday morning to assess the damage from tornadoes that raked the region Friday. A release from Daniels' office said he was surveying the damage in Henryville at around 9:30 AM, Eastern Time.
Daniels said that "Mother Nature has dealt harshly with Indiana'' in a statement Friday. He says humans "are no match for Mother Nature at her worst'' despite advances in disaster preparedness, warning systems and responder communications.
The governor's office said Daniels didn't t travel to the area Friday night because he didn't want to interrupt the rescue efforts.
A powerful storm packing what may have been a tornado damaged or destroyed nearly two dozen homes and injured one motorist in central Illinois today, authorities said.
The storm hit an area near Lake Petersburg in Menard County around 12:30 p.m., according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Smith.
He said damage was reported to homes around the lake near Petersburg, a community of about 2,200 people which is northwest of Springfield.
Petersburg Mayor John Stiltz told WTAX-AM in Springfield that at least two homes were destroyed and several others were rendered uninhabitable. Officials said shelter would be provided for those individuals left homeless by the storm. The station also reported some damage to boat docks around the lake and a building on a golf course.
One injury was reported when a tree or tree limbs fell on a woman's car, said Menard County Sheriff Chuck Jones. The woman's injuries weren't believed to be life threatening.
"It all happened very, very quickly as these things often do," Jones told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register. "Shortly before the storm, we did have the tornado siren, which was a good thing. A lot of people were alerted."
The National Weather Service issued severe weather warnings and watches -- including some for tornadoes -- for counties throughout central and southern portions of the state and for a large swath of the nation's midsection on Friday.
Some tornado watches, particularly along the state's southeastern border, were to remain in effect through Friday evening. Some of those counties include Alexander, Edwards, Franklin Saline and Union.
Tornadoes spawned by the same storm system killed several people in Arkansas and Missouri on Friday.