Midwest tornadoes: Communities count cost as deadly storms head northeast

Midwest tornadoes: Communities count cost as deadly storms head northeast
Anthony Khoury via Reuters
Monday, November 18, 2013 - 6:15am

Communities reeling after a deadly storm system brought widespread destruction throughout the Midwest began to take stock of the damage early Monday.

At least six people died as a result of the severe weather system that wreaked havoc as it tore across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky Missouri and Ohio.

"The whole neighborhood's gone. The wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house," Michael Perdun told The Associated Press by cellphone from the Illinois town of Washington.

He added that the district was wiped out in a matter of seconds.

"I stepped outside and I heard it coming," Perdun told the AP. "My daughter was already in the basement, so I ran downstairs and grabbed her, crouched in the laundry room and all of a sudden I could see daylight up the stairway and my house was gone."

Area hospitals were also trying to set up a temporary emergency medical care facility in Washington, a small town around 145 miles southwest of Chicago.

"The devastation is just unbelievable," said Mayor Gary Manier told Reuters about the town of 15,000, where hundreds of homes were destroyed and one person died. "I can't imagine people walked away from these places."

The storm weakened as it headed into the Northeast early Monday, although gusts of up to 50 mph could cause power outages and disrupt airport travel according to Kevin Noth, a lead meteorologist at the Weather Channel said.

At least 50 patients in the emergency room at St. Francis Medical Center nearby were reported to be tornado-related, eight of them were trauma cases, according to Amy Paul, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

An 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister were killed near New Minden, according to Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger, and unidentified victims were confirmed dead in Washington city and in Unionville.

Two people were also confirmed to have died in Brookport, Ill., in Massac County near the Kentucky line and police with dogs were going door to door to search for trapped residents. With roads entering the city closed by debris and downed power lines, Brookport authorities imposed a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew.

At least 10 tornadoes touched down in Illinois, NBCChicago.com reported. Some 16 were reported to have torn through Indiana where 24,000 homes remained without power at 6:45 a.m. Monday morning according to Duke Power.

Eight more tornadoes swept through Kentucky and Missouri and Ohio reported one a piece.

The unusually large and fast-moving system forced the Chicago Bears to halt their game against the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL fans at Soldier Field to run for shelter as menacing clouds rolled in. Chicago's two major airports briefly stopped traffic while the metropolitan area was under a tornado watch.

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.

According to Rich Thompson, a lead forecaster with the weather service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, some 80 tornado reports were received along with 358 reports of damaging winds and 40 reports of large hail.

"All of a sudden, the wind started picking up, and [my wife] said, 'We've got to get in the basement right now!'" Steve Bucher of Washington told NBC station WEEK of Peoria.

"Within less than a minute, everything started collapsing inside the house, cracking, sputtering," he said. "Next thing we know, it's light inside the garage."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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