Latest on tornadoes: Twister may have had winds of 200 mph

AP News
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Posted: Apr 10, 2015 5:10 PM
Latest on tornadoes: Twister may have had winds of 200 mph

4:10 p.m. CDT

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service have been surveying northern Illinois areas hit by tornadoes and say it looks like one of them may have had winds of up to 200 mph.

Preliminary reports Friday show at least one tornado touched down near Fairdale on Thursday evening. Meteorologist Jamie Enderlen says there's still work to do, but so far it's been classified as an EF4, which means it had wind speeds from 166 mph to 200 mph.

She says there's not yet an official count on the number of tornadoes or full details about them.

The National Weather Service has said there were at least two tornadoes in a six-county area.

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3:10 p.m. CDT

Emergency officials in the tornado-damaged Illinois community of Fairdale say they are confident everyone has been accounted for.

Crews have been going through the wreckage since Thursday evening looking for missing people after at least one tornado struck the area. Two women from the community were killed.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott told reporters Friday that he didn't expect to find additional victims.

Kirkland Fire Department Chief Chad Connell says three crews also were conducting their searches with cadaver dogs. But he also said he was confident no other victims would be found in the rubble.

Connell says residents likely would not be allowed to return to their damaged homes until Saturday. Authorities say that with the debris and lack of power, it remained too dangerous.

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1:55 p.m. CDT

A woman who knew the two people killed in a tornado-ravaged northern Illinois community says the other women 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. Fairdale was among the towns hit by severe weather Thursday night.

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1:45 p.m. CDT

A mayor in northern Illinois says towns in the region affected by tornadoes are close knit.

Les Bellah has been mayor of Kirkland since 1997. He says neighboring Fairdale, which was among the hardest-hit by severe weather Thursday night, is like part of the family. He says Fairdale is "our little sister" and everybody knows everybody else.

He says Fairdale is surrounded by farms. There isn't a grain elevator or school. Children go to school in Kirkland. Aside from a metal-fabricating building, there isn't much else for industry in Fairdale.

Still, he says the population of roughly 150 has generally remained steady. He says there is a core of people who have lived in the area for a long time.

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1:30 p.m. CDT

Residents of a small northern Illinois farming community hit by at least one tornado are remembering two women who died.

The women killed were identified as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz and 69-year-old Jacklyn K. Klosa. The women lived close to each other in Fairdale.

Kari Atchison is the owner of a Marathon gas station in Kirkland and tells the Chicago Sun-Times (http://bitly.com/1FuRJIy) that Schultz had paid the gasoline bill for a woman who'd faced tough times a few years ago.

Atchison says Schultz was a sweet lady whose husband would raise money for Shriners Hospitals in Chicago.

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1:25 p.m. CDT

Some of the first responders and authorities working in tornado-damaged Illinois have lost their own homes.

Roughly 30 homes were damaged in Rochelle. Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle says his home was one of them. He says he built the ranch home, installing stonework on the front.

VanVickle says his wife and two children were on their way out of town and weren't home at the time. He says his dog also made it to the basement and survived.

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12:50 p.m. CDT

The DeKalb County coroner's office has identified a second person found dead in the northern Illinois community of Fairdale after tornadoes struck the region.

The victim was identified Friday as 69-year-old Jacklyn K. Klosa. Authorities say her body was found during "a secondary search."

Officials earlier in the day identified the first victim as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz.

About a dozen other people were injured Thursday after at least one tornado swept through tiny Fairdale, a farming community of about 150 people that was among the hardest-hit areas. It is about 80 miles from Chicago.

The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes swept across six north-central Illinois counties. Three teams were out to assess damage.

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12:40 p.m. CDT

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has declared two counties affected by severe storms and tornadoes as disaster areas.

The Republican governor made the declaration for DeKalb and Ogle counties Friday. The governor said two people in DeKalb County have been reported dead and roughly a dozen more injured. Dozens of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

The state disaster declaration makes available state resources that can help affected communities respond to storm damage. Rauner's office says that includes sending state workers, assets and equipment to affected areas. The state has also begun to conduct damage assessment flights.

Rauner says the state will "do everything it can to help families and communities recover and heal."

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12:25 p.m. CDT

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner confirms a second person has died after tornadoes struck northern Illinois.

Rauner told reporters Friday in Flagg that two people had died. He was surveying damage in the region.

Among the hardest-hit areas was the small farming community of Fairdale, where one woman was killed. She was identified as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz. The second person has not been identified.

About a dozen people were injured Thursday after at least one tornado swept through tiny Fairdale. It's an unincorporated town of about 150, about 80 miles from Chicago.

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11:50 a.m. CDT

At least one school that serves hundreds of students is closed in the tornado-damaged areas of northern Illinois.

Among the hardest hit communities was Fairdale, where one woman died. Homes and other structures were severely damaged. Children from the small farming town of roughly 150 people attend a nearby school in Kirkland where classes were canceled on Friday, the day after the severe weather hit.

Hiawatha School District Superintendent Sarah Willey says there are 575 total students in the district who attend school in a single building.

She says there are families who don't know where they are going to stay.

School is scheduled to be back in session on Monday.

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11:25 a.m. CDT

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to hold a briefing in the northern Illinois community of Flagg about tornado damage after a large storm swept through the area.

Flagg was among the towns that experienced substantial damage when at least two tornadoes damaged a six-county swath Thursday night. One woman from Fairdale was killed and about 11 people were injured. About 30 homes were severely damaged in Rochelle.

According to his public schedule, Rauner will appear at noon Friday with officials from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

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11:10 a.m. CDT

Residents in the tornado-damaged northern Illinois community of Fairdale say there's been an outpouring of help.

Lt. Carl Bunder is a firefighter from the nearby town of Kirkland. He was one of the first people on the scene when at least one tornado struck Fairdale on Thursday night. Since then, he says there have been calls from all over the region with offers to lend trucks, chainsaws or tractors.

Bunder says that's what "the real America is all about."

Authorities say one woman was killed in Fairdale and about 11 were injured.

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10:40 a.m. CDT

Authorities say roughly 30 homes in the northern Illinois community of Rochelle are either completely destroyed or uninhabitable.

Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said Friday (http://bit.ly/1HZuAOP) only residents will be allowed into the area. He says no volunteers are needed Friday.

He estimates that the path of a tornado that touched down in the area was at least a quarter mile wide.

No deaths have been reported. He says injuries were minor.

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10:25 a.m. CDT

One resident of a tornado-damaged town in northern Illinois says he ignored an early warning on his cellphone about the impending twister.

Sixty-year-old machinist Al Zammuto of Fairdale tells The Associated Press he has received similar warnings before but they have never amounted to anything.

Moments after the message arrived, his windows exploded and he took cover.

He says he couldn't believe his eyes when he stepped outside. He says the town looked "like a landfill" and that people were in total shock.

Authorities in the tiny community roughly 80 miles from Chicago say one woman died and about 11 others were injured when at least one tornado touched down Thursday evening.

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10:10 a.m. CDT

One resident of a tornado-damaged town in northern Illinois has recalled the moment the severe weather struck her home.

Sixty-seven-year-old Susan Meyer of Fairdale tells the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/1NjmLKs ) that she was at home when she saw weather reports. She says she went outside to lay down a ladder so it wouldn't blow over, then went back inside and was walking upstairs when windows exploded behind her.

She says she hunkered down in the stairwell and less than a minute later, the entire upstairs had collapsed into her living room and the north wall of her home was gone. She says her two-story home was more than 100 years old.

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9:50 a.m. CDT

A day after a deadly tornado tore through the tiny northern Illinois community of Fairdale, the debris from severely damaged homes, trees and power lines are strewn across roads.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene Friday says some homes in the rural farming village are barely standing and many have shifted off their foundations. Roofs are missing. Metal siding from barns is wrapped around trees.

One woman died and about 11 others were injured in the unincorporated town of about 150 people, located 80 miles from Chicago.

Most buildings are severely damaged. Authorities say crews have conducted two searches of each building for missing residents and are readying for a third.

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9:30 a.m. CDT

Gov. Bruce Rauner is heading to northern Illinois to survey storm damage.

Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle told reporters that Rauner is traveling to the region Friday. The county is one of six in north-central Illinois that experienced tornado damage Thursday evening when at least two tornadoes churned through.

VanVickle says there were no deaths in Ogle County and that no one is missing. One woman was killed by a tornado in Fairdale, in nearby DeKalb County.

Many buildings in Flagg Township were severely damaged by the storm. Crews worked through the night searching through the debris.

VanVickle says only residents are being allowed into the area while crews ensure it is safe.

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9:00 a.m. CDT

Travel at Chicago's major airports is getting back to normal after a burst of severe weather in the Midwest prompted the cancellation of more than 700 flights.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said Friday that more than 90 flights have been cancelled out of O'Hare International Airport and there are delays to the East Coast and Atlanta because of weather problems there. There are no reported problems at Midway International Airport.

On Thursday roughly 735 flights were canceled at O'Hare and 30 at Midway.

The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through north-central Illinois. The storm and cold front headed northeast, dumping snow in Michigan and sweeping across the Ohio Valley. The system is headed into the Appalachian region with the potential for severe thunderstorms

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8:45 a.m. CDT

Authorities say searching the remains of structures damaged and destroyed by a northern Illinois tornado for missing residents is tedious and challenging.

Sycamore Fire Chief Peter Polarek told reporters Friday that he hopes the hunt for those still unaccounted for in the tiny community of Fairdale turns out to be "fruitless."

One person is already confirmed dead and roughly a dozen others are injured.

Polarek says there are lots of safety issues to consider and that crews have been using heavy equipment to move debris. Crews have twice searched buildings and are now embarking on a more detailed search in the unincorporated town 80 miles from Chicago.

The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties — Boone, DeKalb, Lee, McHenry, Ogle and Winnebago.

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8:40 a.m. CDT

Emergency crews say they're conducting detailed searches of homes and other structures in a northern Illinois town to ensure nobody is trapped in rubble left by a deadly tornado.

Authorities say 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz was killed and roughly a dozen people were injured Thursday after the tornado swept through tiny Fairdale, an unincorporated town of about 150, about 80 miles from Chicago.

Kirkland Community Fire District Chief Chad Connell told reporters Friday that emergency crews conducted two preliminary searches and that some residents are missing. He says they're embarking on another intensified search.

Connell says roughly 11 people were taken to hospitals. None have life threatening injuries.

The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties — Boone, DeKalb, Lee, McHenry, Ogle and Winnebago.

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8:15 a.m. CDT

Emergency crews are searching homes and other structures in a northern Illinois town to make sure nobody is trapped in rubble left by Thursday's deadly tornado.

Authorities say 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz was killed and eight people injured after the tornado swept through tiny Fairdale, an unincorporated town of about 150, some 80 miles from Chicago.

The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties — Boone, DeKalb, Lee, McHenry, Ogle and Winnebago.

Three teams were being deployed to assess the damage, the path of the tornadoes and their strength.

The tornado struck Fairdale around 7 p.m., sweeping homes off their foundations and leaving streets impassable with debris and downed power lines. Officials say at least 17 structures were destroyed and about 50 damaged.