socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Emergency response crews continued to survey and clean up damage from a line of tornadoes that raked central Illinois Saturday evening.
“Just a week removed from an early season blizzard, a late season severe weather outbreak resulted in several tornadoes across central and southwest Illinois on December 1,” the National Weather Service in Lincoln said. “This particular supercell took a long path from the eastern fringes of the St. Louis metro area, to east of Bloomington. Other supercells tracked up the Illinois River valley in west-central Illinois.”
In Taylorville, the tornado damaged about 100 homes, killed livestock and took out power lines and trees. No deaths were reported. Taylorville is a city of about 11,000 people located about 30 minutes southeast of Springfield in Christian County.
Gov. Bruce Rauner toured the area Sunday.
“It’s a miracle no one has been killed in this tragedy of these tornadoes,” Rauner said. “Twelve counties were hit by the storms yesterday and last night. Thankfully no fatalities. Christian County was hit the hardest. Many families lost everything, lost their entire homes and personal possessions.”
Rauner said there were more than 20 injuries, with three listed as severe.
Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp said traffic has slowed cleanup efforts.
“Now, I know people want to get out and help their friends, which is fine, but if you’re just out there driving around gawking please stay away,” Kettelkamp said. “We need to allow the people that are working to get in there.”
Taylorville is U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis’ hometown. He said first responders have already made progress. And while he echoed the sheriff’s call for gawkers not to impede the recovery, he said the rest of Taylorville remains open.
“And you’ll see even more progress tomorrow when daylight breaks and I’m excited for that because Taylorville is open for business,” said Davis, R-Taylorville. “If you come here you’ll be able to shop, you’ll be able to go to the restaurants. Don’t stay away from our town. Just stay away from those affected neighborhoods, please.”
Altogether, more than 12 counties across the state were hit with severe weather.
“Second hardest hit was Cass County,” Rauner said. “A number of structures were hit hard there. Actually, the national guard armory lost a portion of its roof. Munitions and equipment were damaged and had to be removed from the building.”
In Taylorville, Fire Chief Mike Crews said first responders and residents from all over the village were coming together.
“Strangers helping other strangers and it really brought us all together,” Crews said. “What can I say? We’re a great community. We’ll be whole again and in a year from now this will just be a bad memory.”
Rauner told anyone affected by the storms to save all receipts of damage recovery costs.
“We’d like to maximize the opportunity to get reimbursement whether it from the state or even potentially from certain federal programs,” the governor said.
He also encouraged insurance companies to begin to reimburse those covered by the storms immediately.
The National Weather Service will continue to conduct surveys of the damage to determine the exact strength and intensity of the storm.
In December 1957, 21 tornadoes were reported over two days in Illinois.