A tornado touched down in Washington, Ill at 11 a.m. Nov. 16. It lasted approximately 10 minutes, leaving a path of destruction in its wake, according to CBS Chicago.
According to the Epoch Times, The National Weather Service reported that the on-the-ground tornado was moving at 60 mph shortly after 11 a.m.
Strong winds and rainstorms also affected the surrounding areas of Pekin, East Peoria and Dana.
“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Russell Schneider, director of The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. “Approximately 53 million in 10 states are at significant risk for thunderstorms and tornadoes.”
According to The Huffington Post, serveral dozen injuries and at least three fatalities have been reported in Washington, Ill. alone.
Renae Grilliot, a senior studying communication, lives 20 minutes away in Chicago, where she said the damage was minimal.
“We’ve seen a lot of wind damage in my town, with power outages and trees destroyed but I have friends where the tornado actually hit, and they’ve lost everything,” Grilliot said. “There used to be neighborhoods there, and now their homes are leveled. It’s devastating.”
Grilliot said she was sitting in church when the congregation was called into the hallways and instructed to stay away from any windows.
“We hung out there for about 45 minutes before it was safe to go home,” she said. “I remember driving home from church, already seeing wind damage and not knowing if our roof would be intact or how our home would look. Thankfully, my home was fine. We have power, no trees fell on our home, and we feel immensely blessed. But for my friends in Washington, Ill, as they went home from church, unfortunately they don’t have their homes anymore. I can’t imagine.”
Grilliot said members of her ward went Monday to help give service in the affected area.
According to CNN, hundreds of thousands of people are without power, and hundreds are without homes.
“Devastation. Sadness. People lost everything,” said Mayor Gary Manier in an interview with CNN.
Hannah Breeze, a sophomore studying communication, said her family was lucky because their home did not sustain any damage.
“The most damage that they had was that they lost a trash can lid [which was later found]. In all the storms we’ve had, there hasn’t really been any damage to my family’s house. We usually just have a few trash cans knocked over and some branches down and/or the power has gone out. It didn’t sound like there was too much damage in my town,” Breeze said.
Illinois wasn’t the only state that experienced severe weather on Sunday.
According to CNN, state emergency officials in Missouri said a tornado may have hit Scott County, where heavy winds overturned three rail cars and four mobile homes.
In Nashville, Ill., two deaths have been reported after a tornado with estimated peak winds of 168 mph hit, and three people in far southern Illinois died from what was believed to be a tornado there: two in the Brookport area and one in Unionville, according to CNN.
Matt Friedlein, a weather service meteorologist in the area, said that tornados at this time of year are more common than people might think.
“People can fall into complacency because they don’t see severe weather and tornadoes, but we do stress that they should keep a vigilant eye on the weather and have a means to hear a tornado warning because things can change very quickly,” Friedlein said.