Governor requests Disaster Declaration For Seven Illinois Counties
A state of disaster is being declared in seven Illinois counties devastated by a wave of tornadoes on Sunday. Governor Pat Quinn issued the declaration as the death toll continued to climb across his state. At least five people have been killed and more than three dozen others injured. Tens of thousands of people are without power. A full house at Soldier Field had to evacuate for a time as the storm system approached Sunday afternoon. They were later allowed back to their seats. Hundreds of flights were affected heading into and out of the region.
Reacting to Damage Caused by Severe Weather – Hard Hit Areas Hard to Reach
Collinsville, IL (Nov. 17, 2013) – Ameren Illinois' Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated at 11:30am this morning to provide restoration support to communities impacted by today's severe storms and high winds.
Currently, approximately 140,000 Ameren Illinois customers are without power. While damage is severe all over central and southern Illinois, the hardest hit areas are in the Washington, Pekin, Danville and Bloomington areas. Crews continue to assess the damage and the company will provide an update on restoration times as more information becomes available.
"Safety is the top priority for our customers and our workers," said Richard J. Mark, President and CEO of Ameren Illinois. "We know the critical role electricity and natural gas has in our customers' lives. Our crews will work quickly and safely to restore their power."
Ameren Illinois currently has several hundred personnel deployed all across its service territory. Storm trailers have been deployed to the most seriously damaged areas so customers should understand that help is on the way. Ameren Illinois crews are currently working hard to document the full extent of the damages and may be encountering difficult conditions, especially in harder hit areas of the Ameren Illinois territory.
The most important safety rule is to stay clear of downed power lines and always call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755-5000 or 911 if you see downed lines or smell natural gas leaks. Assume all downed power lines are energized. Stay inside because you may walk into an energized power line. Stay clear of brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines.
While every effort is made to restore power as quickly as possible, customers with special needs—including those with medical conditions, seniors, handicapped and others who are dependent on electric service—may wish to consider making alternative arrangements if outages in their areas persist.
Customers can report an outage at Ameren.mobi using a smartphone, go online to AmerenIllinois.com/Outage or call 1.800.755.5000.
Additional storm safety information is available at the Ameren Illinois Outage Center at AmerenIllinois.com/Outage.
Coal City hit by tornado, first responders search for victims
Emergency responders in Grundy County confirm they were involved in a search for any victims after a tornado hit the town of Coal City and nearby Diamond. The Emergency Management Agency office was urging the public to stay away from the town until the full extent of the damage was assessed.
Significant damage was reported and homes and commercial businesses in the community were destroyed. The devastation has drawn scores of emergency workers from Coal City, Braidwood, Joliet, Manhattan, Plainfield, Lockport and Minooka, among others. The teams set up staging areas at the Braidwood and Coal City fire departments.
The tornado hit about 12:20 pm, according to the EMA office.
While no fatalities have been reported, there have been reports of injuries. Downed power lines are among the damage and existing threats, and with winds gusting at 50 mph.
The NWS also confirmed tornado damage in Gifford in Champaign County and in parts of Vermilion and Iroquois Counties.
The hardest hit Illinois community was Washington in Tazewell County.
Tornadoes, damaging storms sweep Midwest, five confirmed dead
CHICAGO (AP) — Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest Sunday, causing damage in several central Illinois communities while sending people to their basements for shelter and even prompting officials at Soldier Field in Chicago to evacuate the stands and delay the Bears game.
The community of Washington in central Illinois appeared particularly hard hit, and a state official said that emergency crews were racing to the area amid reports that people had been trapped in buildings. But communications were spotty and Patti Thompson of the Illinois Department of Emergency Management said it was difficult to get information from the scene.
As the storm darkened downtown Chicago after noon, the Chicago Bears – Baltimore Ravens game was delayed and fans were ordered out of the stands and players led off the field.
Despite the reports of tornadoes, there were not yet any confirmed reports of injuries.
Weather service officials confirmed that a tornado touched down just before 11 a.m. near the central Illinois community of East Peoria, but authorities did not immediately have damage or injury reports. Within an hour, the weather service said that tornadoes had touched down in Washington, Metamora, Morton and other central communities, though officials could not say whether it was one tornado touching down or several. Weather officials said it was moving northeast about 60 mph.
According to agency officials, parts of Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio are at the greatest risk of seeing tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds throughout the day Sunday. Strong winds and atmospheric instability were expected to sweep across the central Plains during the day before pushing into the mid-Atlantic states and northeast by evening. Many of the storms were expected to become supercells, with the potential to produce tornadoes, large hail and destructive winds.
In Chicago, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued a warning to fans attending making their way to Soldier Field to watch the Bears-Ravens game. It urged fans ''to take extra precautions and ... appropriate measures to ensure their personal safety.''
Congresswoman Robin Kelly will have a challenger in next year's election.
Eric Wallace announced in Kankakee Thursday evening that he'll be a Republican candidate the 2nd District in 2014. The district is heavily-Democrat, so Wallace knows he has an uphill battle ahead. But he said he'll focus on the south suburbs to hopefully gain the majority of votes.
Wallace, who's from Flossmoor, said the same-sex marriage vote will be a major issue in the race.
Wallace made his announcement at the Kankakee County Republican headquarters.