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Illinois

Two Deaths Confirmed After Ottawa Tornado

Two deaths have been confirmed as the result of an EF-3 tornado ripping through LaSalle County around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the LaSalle County Coroner's Office, 76-year-old Wayne Tuntland was crushed by a falling tree at 436 State St.  The Peoria County Coroner's Office also confirmed the death of 31-year old David Johnson. He died of his injuries after being treated at OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, and OSF St. Francis in Peoria. 

Displaced residents were sent to Ottawa High School.

Heavy damage was also reported at the LaSalle County Nursing Home. The facility's Facebook page posted an update Tuesday night saying all residents were safe and accounted for.

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National Weather Service posting issued right before the tornado on Feb. 28, 2017

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner visited the damaged areas Wednesday.

"We just have to give our prayers, our thanks, to the good Lord that things weren't worse," he said. "This could have been much, much worse."

Bruce Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to help local emergency responders following tornado touchdowns in several areas of Illinois.

"It's wonderful the way the residents and the community helped each other," he said. "They got to elderly residents and gave them a warning that the tornadoes were coming and people got into their basements."

In neighboring Naplate, Fire Chief John Nevins says that village of 500 took the hardest hit.
 
"The west end of the village has taken more damage than anywhere else in the village," he said. "Many people have been displaced.  There have been houses that were totally destroyed, others heavily damaged.” 

Many businesses in Ottawa experienced power outages, including WCMY Radio. Reporter N'Jema McIntyre tells WNIJ the southern part of the city was the most damaged, and there were reports of a gas smell in the area after the storm rolled through.

Margaret Shuck was in one of the affected neighborhoods, and says it struck quickly. 

“They couldn’t see anything because it was too dark.  As soon as the tornado hit, we all came out to see what we can do, and it devastated as soon as it hit.”

Damage reports included Marseilles with a report of an electrical tower down and blocking a road as well as several damaged buildings, and a house with a roof blown off.

Neighboring Naplate reportedly experienced heavy damage. Naplate is located southwest of Ottawa.

An EF-1 tornado was confirmed in Oregon, Illinois.

There were reports of hail in DeKalb and Lee counties.

  • WNIJ's Chase Cavanaugh and Jenna Dooley contributed to this report