Cleanup began Monday in the aftermath of a storm system officials are saying left six people dead Sunday after strong storms and tornadoes swept across state. Five of Sunday’s fatalities reported were in southern Illinois, with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency reporting up to 200 were injured.
Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger confirmed Monday night that 80-year-old Joseph R. Hoy, of rural New Minden was killed in the storm, his body found in a field 100 yards from his rural farm house. His sister, 78-year-old Frances J. Hoy was found under rubble and was rushed to the hospital where she was ultimately pronounced dead.
Three other deaths are being reported in the Massac County community of Brookport, which has suffered significant damage from what is being reported as an EF3 tornado.
Those killed are identified as 58-year-old Kathy George, 56-year-old Robert Harmon, and 63-year-old Scholitta Burrus, all of Brookport.
One other death has been reported in the Tazwell County community of Washington, Illinois, which is north of here near Peoria and Pekin.
Washington County Emergency and Safety director Rick Greten reports it was an EF4 tornado that hit New Minden, which means it had winds between 166 and 200 mph. The tornado traveled 6 miles and severely damaged several homes and a church.
In Centralia, the Flying M Ranch and surrounding area was hit hard, with the owner of the court being injured by flying debris.
Both highways 127 and 177 remained closed Monday morning as utility workers attempted to restore power to the area and officials began cleanup as well as the search for possible further victims.
Tri-county Electric Cooperative’s general Manager Marcia Scott is that they have all of their crews and eight additional contracted crews out making repairs in the Hoyleton area.
The tornado tore down over 50 poles, some which were transmission poles to the substation. Some power was restored early Monday, but those still without power Monday night could be without it again.
Scott says it is difficult to know when the crews will have all the poles up, wires attached and anything else needed at the substation fixed, but they hope to get power up to everyone sometime tonight.
She knows residents of Washington County need power, but the crews had been going with little to no sleep as they worked through the night and into the day.
A blown transformer at Laura Leake Park in Centralia knocked power out for many Ameren customers in that area.
Governor Pat Quinn inspected damage on the ground Monday in some of Illinois’ hardest hit communities, including Washington, Diamond, Gifford, Brookport and New Minden.
Quinn has declared seven counties disaster areas, including Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties. He noted it was crucial to keep track of all loss and damage to provide accurate information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.