Northern Illinois Tornadoes Cause Damage, Injuries, Two Deaths
Two people were killed and at least 11 more were injured as a massive tornado tore a 50-mile long path across northern Illinois Thursday evening.
The small DeKalb County community of Fairdale was hit hardest, with severe damage to nearly every building.
A woman who knew the two people killed in a tornado-ravaged northern Illinois community says the two women who died were friends.
The two killed were identified as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz and 69-year-old Jacklyn K. Klosa. The women lived close to each other.
Sixty-seven year old Sue Meyer says Schultz was known as "Geri'' to friends and was kind-hearted and gentle. She would also drive Klosa to clinics for medical treatment. Meyer says Klosa was fun-loving and quick-witted. Meyer was among those whose homes were severely damaged.
Governor Bruce Rauner Friday declared DeKalb and Ogle counties state disaster areas.
“Our hearts and thoughts go out to those impacted by yesterday’s storms,” said Gov. Rauner, in a noon hour news conference. “The State will do everything it can to help these families and communities recover and heal, while providing response resources.”
Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste said he was able to see the tornado from 18 miles away. He says in his 25 years of storm-chasing, he had never seen one like this,
“So you had a mile-wide tornado”, said Sebenste, “And on the periphery of the tornado, you saw these cone-shaped funnels dancing --- literally rotating all the way around the main vortex. You only see that happen in very powerful high-end tornadoes.”
Rockford Fire Department division chief Matthew Knot told ABC7-TV that “every single” one of the approximately 50 structures in Fairdale was damaged, and “most” had been flattened.
25 miles to the south, in the Ogle County town of Rochelle, authorities say fourteen people were rescued after being trapped in a restaurant flattened by a reported tornado.
The people were trapped inside Grubsteakers restaurant, a popular truck stop that sits by itself in the middle of farm fields off of I-39.
Reporter Jenna Dooley of Northern Public Radio says about a dozen workers and patrons hunkered down for more than an hour in the restaurant’s basement. It was one of the first structures hit during the storms on its path across northern Illinois. Dooley says one of the workers showed her the small opening leading to a basement where they waited. When they emerged, the landscape was much different… surrounded by cars with shattered glass…and pink insulation.
The Daily Chronicle in DeKalb reports none of the victims pulled from the collapsed building were injured.
But Grubsteakers itself is barely standing. Many of the walls are completely gone…leaving exposed kitchen shelving filled with food and canisters and pink insulation.
Elsewhere in northern Illinois, Winnebago County Sheriff's spokesman Ken DeCoster says funnel clouds were spotted near Rockford, but did not touch down.
A dispatcher with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department said they received several reports of tornadoes in the area of Woodstock. However, there were no reports of damage.
A tornado was reported near Peoria on Thursday afternoon, but there were no immediate reports of damage.
Thursday’s severe weather also forced the cancellation of about 735 flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and flight delays of 90 minutes.
The Chicago Department of Aviation on Thursday reported 30 cancellations at Midway International Airport and delays of up to 45 minutes.