UPDATE: 2 Dead After Tornadoes Rip Through Stateline; How to Help

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UPDATE: Two people are confirmed dead, another woman found today under the rubble in her bathtub in Fairdale.

"Those victims that were in the areas were the most devastating spots in this town. There were 17 homes that were leveled and debris piles that were just unbelievable up there," says Kirkland Community Fire District Chief Chad Connell.

The victims have been identified as 67-year-old Geraldine Schultz and 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa. The women lived right next door to each other in Fairdale. According to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, no one is considered missing at this time. Fairdale families are expected to go see what's left of their homes for the first time tomorrow morning. This was all due to at least one tornado sweeping through the Stateline yesterday evening with the areas seeing most of the damage in DeKalb, Ogle and Lee Counties.

23 News Anchor Whitney Martin Spent today in Fairdale where people tell 23 News they are hurting both for the loss of their friends and their loved ones. One woman telling us she wanted to take clothes out of her dress that was in the front lawn.

Daylight paints a grim picture for the survivors of the Fairdale tornado. Survivors like Susan Meyer who became homeless in a matter of 30 seconds as she was curled up in a ball tucked at the bottom of her basement stairs.

As Meyer waits to see what's left of her home, two other victims will never return. David Richardson's aunt, Jackie Klosa was found dead in the bathroom. He says she was afraid of spiders so she avoided the trip downstairs.

"When I walked out, her house was destroyed. It hasn't hit me yet. Every once and a while I need to walk away and be strong," says Richardson.

While Richardson mourns, he also never had a chance to say goodbye to his home, saying the massive twister aggressively threw him on to the lawn where a wall acted as a shield from the storm.

"It kept trying to suck me out from underneath the wall, it pulled my feet out and I dug my fingers into anything I could and it drug me about three feet," Richardson recalls.

Volunteers from the Red Cross join dozens, if not hundreds reaching out to the victims as broken chairs and twisted metal have become images of the past.

Perhaps an even bigger tribute, as an unidentified volunteer firefighter climbs above the debris to hang an American flag.

Lieutenant Carl Bruder says search and rescue attempts have become personal as he digs through the rubble with his bare hands.

As the small town of 150 tries to pick up the pieces many are forced to rebuild their homes and now their lives without two neighbors they've known for years.

One man who didn't want to go on camera tells 23 News that his parents will now rebuild. Our crews saw his horse wandering.

Over two dozen homes in unincorporated Rochelle were completely destroyed from last night's tornado.

About 30 homes in Flagg Township and unincorporated Rochelle were completely destroyed by last night's tornado which the National Weather Service believes was an EF4 according to their preliminary investigation.

One of the homes destroyed was owned by Emily Dickow , which she built seven years ago in the subdivision of Cherry Hill, along with Dickow's home, many others in the surrounding area were also completely wiped out by the tornado. Fortunately, everyone in the area was able to escape with only minor injuries. In fact there have been zero fatalities reported in Ogle County. Dickow says she and her fiance have been receiving an out pour of help.

"You think you have nothing left, but you have all of these people that are supporting you and really helping you out. It just makes you feel loved," Dickow says.

Dickow and her fiance also have five dogs, two of which were killed in the storm. Dickow says she and her fiance plan to rebuild. One of the other homes in the neighborhood was owned by Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle.

Governor Bruce Rauner has declared DeKalb and Ogle Counties disaster areas after touring the damage. That means state resources can help local leaders respond to storm damage. Rauner's office says that includes sending state workers, assets, and equipment soon. The State has also started doing damage assessment flights.

Rauner has been surveying damage throughout the region this afternoon. The Governor says the state will do everything it can to help families and communities recover and heal.

"I signed a proclamation, a declaration this morning, a state disaster declaration. That allows us if we need to to visit with the federal government about federal support. We don't believe that will be necessary at the present time," says Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The State Incidence Response Center in Springfield was activated yesterday afternoon and will keep working as long as necessary. Several state agencies are working with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to coordinate response.

Over 500 crew members from ComEd are canvassing Fairdale and the surrounding area, trying to restore power to at least those just outside the town destroyed.

According to ComEd's president, at the storm's peak, about 64,000 families throughout the region were without power. Checking ComEd's outage map, about 150 homes are still believed to be without power. Electricity is expected to be restored to those just outside Fairdale tonight.

Since the tornadoes touched down, people almost immediately have wanted to know how they can help. A semi truck is already starting to fill up at Rockford Christian Schools with students, parents, and businesses helping to fill the trailer with water, blankets, and toiletries. The school will collect items until Tuesday morning. Then they'll take all those items to the Kirkland Fire Department to be handed out by various agencies.

In a message from DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott, no additional volunteers are needed at this time. He says the community appreciates the offers of help but allowing more volunteers into the area would cause further congestion.

He also notes that rescue crews currently have enough food and supplies. If you want to donate these items,please wait until further notice as to when and where to drop them off. Please do not try to deliver supplies to the affected area. Sheriff Scott also asks that we refrain from dropping off perishable food to the Kirkland Fire Department. Currently they can no longer accept perishable food items due to limited space availability.

The City of Rochelle is also reporting that the Fire Department is at capacity for donations. They encourage those who would like to help to make a monetary donation to the Rochelle Area Community Foundation at rochellefoundation.org.

For a full list of the organizations stepping up to help, including the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and various other donation drives, please see the attached sidebar and link.


FLAGG, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner confirms a second person has died in the northern Illinois community of Fairdale after tornadoes struck the region.

The DeKalb County Coroner's Office has identified the second victim of Thursday's tornado in Fairdale as 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa.

Rauner told reporters Friday in Flagg that two people had died. He was surveying damage in region.

Among the hardest hit areas was the small farming community of Fairdale where one woman was killed. She was identified as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz. Roughly a dozen other people were injured Thursday after at least one tornado swept through tiny Fairdale.

It's an unincorporated town of about 150, about 80 miles northwest of Chicago.


(AP) -- One resident of a tornado-damaged town in northern Illinois says he ignored an early warning on his cellphone about the impending twister.

Sixty-year-old machinist Al Zammuto of Fairdale tells The Associated Press he has received similar warnings before but they have never amounted to anything.

Moments after the message arrived, his windows exploded and he took cover.

He says he couldn't believe his eyes when he stepped outside. He says the town looked "like a landfill" and that people were in total shock.

Authorities in the tiny community roughly 80 miles northwest of Chicago say one woman died and about 11 others were injured when at least one tornado touched down Thursday evening.


UPDATE: A 67-year-old woman is dead and at least eleven people are hospitalized with a toll that could go higher after a series of tornadoes rip through the Stateline. The areas most crippled are in DeKalb, Ogle, and Lee Counties with sporadic damage in Winnebago and Boone Counties. The town of Fairdale, which is on Route 72 in extreme northwest DeKalb County, east of Monroe Center has been just about wiped off the map within minutes.

The tornado ripped through Fairdale just after 7:00 Thursday night, damaging all 50 structures in town. Rescue crews continued to sift through the damage and search for survivors into the early hours of Friday morning.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott says last night's rescues were a collaborative effort.

"The first step obviously is trying to get to the immediate needs of the people that you see and our officers were doing that when they got here and then calling in assistance from other agencies to secure the area and try to figure out where we're at of course it's dark. We're maneuvering through all of that," said Sheriff Scott.

Division Chief Matt Knott with the Rockford Fire Department says ten people were taken to Kishwaukee Hospital and one person was transported to OSF Saint Anthony as of 1:45 Friday morning.

According to the DeKalb County Coroner's Office, a 67-year-old woman is dead. We're told she was found in her house. Her name has not yet been released.

Last night's tornado also caused some major damage in Rochelle wiping out a local restaurant that had a dozen people inside at the time.

Grubsteakers, which sits at the intersection of Route 64 and 251 in Rochelle was directly hit by last night's tornado. Twelve people were inside the restaurant at the time and fled to the basement. Five fire departments combined forces to rescue the twelve people who were trapped for almost two hours and escaped with only minor injuries.

Assistant Chief Rick Mott with Lynn-Scott-Rock Fire Department says he's never seen anything like this.

"We got everybody out. Appears to be minor injuries. None of our folks were hurt. None of the surrounding departments that came to help, none of their people were hurt. So, from that standpoint, it was a successful operation for us." says Chief Mott.

In Flagg Center, just north of Rochelle, 18 to 20 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Last night our news crew was not allowed into the damaged area because they were worried about overall security, but Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle gave us his perspective on the damage that was done in his county.

"We currently have several structures that have been damaged and several residences that have been completely lost. At this time, we've got a secure perimeter around the area and we're asking residents to either stay home or stay away until we can get a better assessment," said Sheriff VanVickle.

Sheriff VanVickle also tells 23 News his own home was destroyed in Thursday's tornado.


ROCHELLE, Ill. (AP) -- Authorities say one person is dead and seven injured in a northern Illinois community hit by a severe storm that produced at least one tornado.

The Illinois Department of Emergency Management says one person was killed in the tiny community of Fairdale.

Rockford Fire Department division chief Matthew Knott tells ABC7-TV that seven people were injured. Knott says "every single" one of the approximately 50 structures in Fairdale has been damaged.

He says "most" have been flattened.



 
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