CHICAGO: A radar-confirmed tornado swept through communities in heavily populated suburban Chicago, damaging more than 100 homes, toppling trees, knocking out power and causing multiple injuries, officials said.
At least five people, including a woman who was listed in critical condition, were hospitalized in Naperville, where 16 homes were left “uninhabitable” and dozens of other homes were damaged when a reported tornado touched down after 11pm on Sunday, said city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche.
More than 120 other reports of property damage had been received by 5am on Monday in the city about 40km west of Chicago and those were expected to grow as residents surveyed the storm damage, she said. About 450 power outages were reported.
“We’re lucky that it wasn’t worse,” LaCloche said Monday morning. “We have a lot of utility poles and electrical wires down, and tree damage.”
Video showed several large trees downed and damage to homes and vehicles in the path of the storm. Some gas leaks were reported in Naperville, and crews went door to door shutting off lines, she said.
Officials in the nearby village of Woodridge said a tornado touched down late Sunday and a damage assessment was underway. There were no reports of significant injuries in the community, but people were urged to avoid the area due to downed power lines and trees.
The storm destroyed the second floor of Bridget Casey’s Woodridge home. She sat in a lawn chair in the driveway before sunrise on Monday. Her son, Nate Casey, 16, said he was watching TV when the storm swept through and he raced to help his mother get his three younger siblings to the basement.
“I just heard a loud crash and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, what are my brothers up to?’ I go look and I see the sky, and then I hear my brothers screaming from the room,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Illinois, said a team from the weather service would be surveying storm damage Monday to determine the reported tornado’s strength and its path. He said the same storm is believed to have rolled through Naperville, Woodridge and Darien, and may have also caused damage in Burr Ridge, about 32km southwest of Chicago,
“If there were no fatalities — and there haven’t been any reported to us — that’s great news considering the population of the area, the level of damage and the time of day, after 11pm when many people may be asleep,” he said.
Radar had also showed storm rotation over several other areas of suburban Chicago, and also in northwestern Indiana in the Hobart and South Haven areas, Friedlein said. Late Sunday and early Monday, severe thunderstorms brought gusting winds and drenching rains to parts of Michigan. And in Missouri, a thunderstorm with strong winds whipped through parts of the state late Sunday and early Monday — knocking down trees and power lines.