These people need prayers. They’ve lost everything.
A devastating tornado leveled an entire town Thursday night, killing one person and leaving dozens of others trapped in their basements as extreme weather tore through the Midwest.
The small town of Fairdale was hardly standing Friday morning, after 17 of its 50 buildings were obliterated by the vortex, which also left one resident, 67-year-old Geraldine M Schultz, dead.
Residents sheltering in their basements were left trapped as buildings collapsed on top of them. According to local authorities, every single structure in the tiny, unincorporated town was damaged by the raging winds.
Rescue teams are still scrambling to account for the residents of the pummeled community. One commented: ‘It was like a bomb went off.’ One woman caught in the storm said: ‘The house shook like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, and when it got quiet we peeked out the door and there was nothing there.’
The true extent of destruction wrought by the Midwestern tornadoes became clear as the severe weather risk swung east. Forecasters predicted thunderstorms and high winds from New York City to Florida, with the entire Gulf Coast also at risk – though more tornadoes are thought to be unlikely.
At least two tornadoes tore across Illinois on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, churning through six counties in the center of the state.
Three teams of storm surveyors have been dispatched to the area to asses the extent of the damage.
Matthew Knott, the area’s fire chief, said: ‘This town is absolutely devastated.’
Schultz, the only fatality announced so far, was found dead inside her home, DeKalb County coroner Dennis Miller said at a news conference early Friday
The town’s power was out early Friday, and everyone had been evacuated with a shelter set up at a nearby high school. The Red Cross and Salvation Army were assisting.
Authorities said that they were fairly confident there were no more victims among the debris but are still searching today to account for every single resident.
The National Weather Service confirmed at 7pm the tornado was on the ground and urged residents on Twitter to ‘seek shelter immediately if in the path of this dangerous storm.’
Patti Thompson, a state emergency management spokeswoman, said the twister claimed one life in Fairdale, Illinois.
In Rochelle, Ogle County’s Sheriff’s dispatchers reported multiple injures and damage.
Sheriff Brian Van Vickle said in a news conference that about 20 homes there were severely damaged or destroyed, but no deaths or significant injuries were reported. Ogle County is adjacent to DeKalb County.
Supercell thunderstorms have been blamed for producing the devastating tornado that pummeled the Midwest.
Robin Biggs, an employee at the Super 8 motel in nearby Rochelle, said she took video of the storm, which she said ‘took everything out in its path.’
‘I have lived her 18 years and I have never seen a tornado that big or stay on the ground that long,’ she said. ‘What we have is a small one touching the ground and going right back up, but this just stayed down and went all the way across the horizon.’
Koleen Kessen, who works at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Rochelle, said she went outside and spotted the tornado a few miles away after hearing sirens. She said hotel guests told her the tornado leveled a restaurant.
The Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, citing fire officials, reported that 14 people who had been trapped inside Grubsteakers restaurant in Rochelle had since been rescued. The newspaper reported the restaurant collapsed during the storm.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk