Illinois communities leveled by tornadoes pick up the pieces - FOX 32 News Chicago

Illinois communities leveled by tornadoes pick up the pieces

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Washington, Ill. mayor says the people here are resilient and will recover. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall via Twitter) Washington, Ill. mayor says the people here are resilient and will recover. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall via Twitter)
Washington, Ill. residents salvage memories and valuables on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall via Twitter) Washington, Ill. residents salvage memories and valuables on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall via Twitter)
Sunrise over Washington, Ill. on Tuesday after Nov. tornadoes. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall via Twitter) Sunrise over Washington, Ill. on Tuesday after Nov. tornadoes. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall via Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Anita Padilla via Instagram) (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Anita Padilla via Instagram)
WASHINGTON, Ill. (Associated Press) -

The cleanup from an outbreak of tornadoes has scarcely begun, but people in storm-ravaged towns like Washington in central Illinois have come together and kept going. Tornadoes slammed the state on Sunday, killing at least six people and injuring about 200.

The tornado that hit Washington on Sunday cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of the community of 16,000 to the other. The mayor said more than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by strong storms.

Chicago Bears players including kicker Robbie Gould, volunteered their time in Coal City, Ill. to unload donations from across the state and help storm survivors in any way they could Tuesday afternoon.

The team, in partnership with their team charity Bears Care and the American Red Cross, will match all monetary donations made by fans through the Bears Care Tornado Relief website - dollar for dollar.

Caroline Schrenker with the Chicago Bears also said there will be an online auction - on the same website - of the jerseys, football pants, game balls, shoes, the game coin and other memorabilia used in the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. All proceeds from that auction will go toward tornado victim relief through the American Red Cross.


Mayor Gary Manier says that figure includes homes that were totally destroyed as well as properties that received minor damage. Officials still haven't said how many people in the community have been affected by Sunday's tornado.

Washington is about 10 miles east of Peoria.

People forced out of their homes were allowed back in Monday to survey damage and see what they could save. Some homes had been shattered into piles of brick, drywall and lumber. Others still had sections standing. In one neighborhood, homeowners and their friends and families worked quickly in a stiff, cold breeze.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say preliminary surveys show at least 11 tornadoes touched down in Illinois during Sunday's storms. Crews surveying damage reported five tornadoes in central Illinois, three in northern Illinois, two in southwestern Illinois and a one in far-southern Illinois.

At least two of the tornadoes have preliminary designations as EF-4s, the second-strongest rating given to the twisters. One of those tornadoes hit the central Illinois community of Washington. It had winds that reached 190 miles per hour. That funnel cloud was on the ground for more than 46 miles. Another tornado that hit Gifford had winds reaching 140 miles per hour and had a path that was 24 miles long.

Power has been restored to tens of thousands of homes and business in Illinois, but thousands of others remain in the dark. About 10,000 homes and businesses are still without power on Tuesday morning. Officials have said it could be days before power is restored to the hardest-hit communities.

Ameren Illinois' outage center shows there about 7,000 customers without power on Tuesday morning. The highest concentration is near Peoria, although outages are scattered across central Illinois and in the state's far-southern tip. Meanwhile in northern Illinois, about 3,000 ComEd customers were also without electricity.

Gov. Pat Quinn says a tornado recovery priority is making sure those who were left homeless in southern and central Illinois have roofs over their heads. With colder weather setting in, housing has become a main concern following Sunday's storms.

A day after touring devastated communities, the governor said the lack of housing is "going to be a big, big issue for us coming up in the next few days."

Quinn singled out the small community of Brookport in far southern Illinois, where the storm hit a trailer park. Quinn said those left homeless there are "very, very poor" and need assistance.

The governor added another six counties to the state's disaster declaration after strong weekend storms blew across the region. The move was announced early Tuesday and brings the total number of counties given the designation to 13.

The newest counties being added are Douglas, Jasper, Pope, Wabash, Wayne and Will. The governor declared Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties as state disaster areas on Monday.

The disaster designation is aimed at making it easier for state resources to help hard-hit communities.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin addressed his colleagues in Congress on Monday about helping Illinois recover from severe weekend storms. Durbin, a Springfield Democrat and the chamber's assistant majority leader, made the comments shortly after a phone call with the director of the IMEA.

Durbin says the widespread damages will require coordinated local, state and federal resources. He says he is ready to help endure federal funding heads to Illinois.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has sent emergency teams and liaisons to affected states. FEMA spokesman Mark Peterson in Chicago says local officials are assessing property damage, including how much of it will be covered by insurance.

Once that's all determined, affected states can request FEMA's help in verifying those numbers and decide whether to seek a federal disaster declaration.

Two Illinois-based insurers say they've received about 6,000 claims so far from Sunday's tornadoes and they expect that figure to climb.

State Farm officials told The (Bloomington) Pantagraph they've received about 3,500 claims from customers in Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. About 1,800 claims came from Illinois policyholders.

Meanwhile, Country Financial officials say they've received about 2,400 homeowners and auto claims from their Illinois customers. Both insurers are headquartered in Bloomington.

The state of Illinois is offering free insurance counseling for victims of the tornado that struck the Washington area. The Illinois Department of Insurance says one-on-one counseling services will be available starting Tuesday morning in the Tazewell County city.

State insurance officials say they'll help tornado victims with insurance claims and how to document storm damage. Counselors will advise on whether residents should make temporary repairs, what their homeowner policies cover and what to expect during the claims process.

To find out more, please visit the Illinois Emergency Management Agency's Ready Home: Ready Illinois website.

State officials have also put hunting programs at a northeastern Illinois facility on hold after Sunday's severe storms caused damage.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says that they've suspended hunting programs at the Des Plaines Game Propagation Center in Wilmington until further notice. The facility about 60 miles from Chicago reported significant damage in a storm during which tornadoes caused major destruction and several deaths in central and southern Illinois.

State officials say they'll continue with damage assessment and cleanup, including the removal of downed trees.

Hunting programs will be open at the nearby Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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