Gov. Bruce Rauner visited tornado-ravaged north central Illinois on Friday, declaring DeKalb and Ogle counties state disaster areas and announcing that a second person had been killed by the storms.
“Unfortunately her body was found just relatively recently this morning,” Rauner said at a news conference at the Flagg Center Community Church of God in Flagg. “We hope and pray that is all the fatalities we’ve got… We believe now we know the extent of this terrible loss. Frankly we’re very blessed more people were not hurt. This was a devastating storm.”
The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state also has mobilized personnel and assets to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including conservation police officers, communication equipment and light towers.
In addition, damage assessment flights have started around the hardest hit areas. Liaisons from several state agencies are working with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to coordinate the use of state resources to assist local governments in the affected areas.
All morning long, rescue crews sifted through blocks of splintered homes after at least two tornadoes tore through the towns of Fairdale and Rochelle and surrounding area near Rockford.
“We can rebuild,” said Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle, whose own home was destroyed. “We built once. We can rebuild.”
Fairdale, a town of 150, was the most devastated. All 71 buildings sustained some damage and 17 homes were knocked off their foundations, according to Kirkland Community Fire Chief Chad Connell.
Geraldine Schultz, 67, was killed in her home on Main Street. “She was a sweet lady,” a relative said.
Schultz was found in the upstairs of her home after the storms hit. “She was removed from the home by family members, and I took her from there,” DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said at a news conference Friday morning as helicopters buzzed overhead.
A second woman, Jacklyn K. Klosa, 69, was found dead in her home during a second search in Fairdale Friday morning, according to the DeKalb County coroner’s office. Miller said the two women lived close to each other.
At least 11 other people were taken to hospitals, according to Kirkland Community Fire District Chief Chad Connell.
Fairdale did not have a siren system, but anyone watching TV or who had a cell phone should have been aware of the oncoming storm, Connell said.
Officials have asked residents to stay away until the area is deemed safe. Firefighters from three or four area departments already have done at least two searches of all 71 structures.
They do not believe more survivors will be found in the destroyed homes, Connell said. Teams are searching debris in fields outside of town to ensure no one was swept away, said DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott.
Officials said a few residents are unaccounted for, based on information from families who told officials they were unable to reach them. Anyone who has left the area but has not contacted family was asked to call the DeKalb Sheriff’s Department.
“Because of, obviously, the devastation that we’re dealing with here, we could have people that are just wandering around, just calling back family members. So they come up as missing,” Connell said.
Connell asked volunteers to not come out to help crews at this point. “There is all kinds of booby traps, we don’t know what is out there,” Connell said. “We have a plan, we have a team. It is a very meticulous operation.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune
Quinn Ford, Genevieve Bookwalter, Matthew Walberg, Gregory Pratt, Juan Perez Jr. and Janelle Walker