News Local/State

Tornadoes Cause 6 Deaths, 7 Counties Declared State Disaster Areas


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is declaring seven Illinois counties as disaster areas after massive storms packing funnel clouds ripped through the state Sunday,

The governor's office says the declaration area covers Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties.  He plans to visit many communities Monday, including Gifford and Washington.

Gov. Pat Quinn says the state will help tornado-ravaged communities across Illinois with "every asset we have.''

The governor spoke in Chicago Monday before traveling to central and southern Illinois communities to see storm damage first hand.

"It is important that we see ourselves as a family, that we come together when something very dangerous and difficult and deadly happens to the people," he said.  "We're all in this together."

Six deaths are blamed on the storms, including one in Washington and others in Southern Illinois.

The devastation includes the Champaign County community of Gifford, and Tazewell County community of Washington.  There were only minor injuries in Gifford, but dozens of homes were destroyed or damaged, and the town was evacuated late Sunday.

The mayor of the central Illinois community of Washington says storms and tornadoes destroyed or heavily damaged between 250 and 500 homes.

Illinois emergency officials say the storms injured between 150 and 200 people across the state.   That's according to Jonathon Monken, who is the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

He spoke in Chicago on Monday morning with Gov. Quinn. Monken adds those figures could change.    Monken says most of the injuries are in Washington, where about 120 people were hurt. Some of the injuries were severe. 

The lone tornado death in the central Illinois community of Washington has been identified as a 51-year-old man. A county coroner says Steve Neubauer's body was found near his home.

Washington will be under a curfew for at least a week after a deadly tornado turned scores of houses into rubble.

Illinois State Police Trooper Dustin Pierce says Monday that the curfew will run from 6 p.m. until 7 a.m. 

Authorities implemented the curfew in large part for safety reasons.  With power lines knocked down and tons of debris from the hundreds of homes that were destroyed or badly damaged, authorities do not want people walking around - particularly when it's dark.

A coroner has identified a southern Illinois brother and sister who died when a tornado destroyed their farmhouse near New Minden in southern Washington County.  

Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger says 80-year-old Joseph Hoy died at the scene Sunday afternoon.  Styninger says 78-year-old Frances Hoy was pulled from the rubble but died later at a hospital.