Chicago (AFP) – Residents sifted through piles of rubble Monday as they recovered from violent tornadoes that ripped through four midwestern U.S. states, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens.
An unusually powerful fall storm spawned reports of 81 twisters in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio on Sunday along with powerful winds and heavy rain which soaked a dozen states.
Homes were smashed into rubble, cars and trucks were tossed into the air, trees were ripped out of the ground and downed power lines left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark.
In the hard-hit town of Washington, Illinois Michelle Cumrine came back from a trip to find that her house was completely gone.
“A lot of people have a pile of rubble still,” Cumrine said in disbelief as she stared at the destruction. “I don’t have anything. It’s gone. I don’t know where it went.”
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declared a state of emergency in seven counties where hundreds of homes and business were destroyed and six of the storm’s fatalities were reported.
“As we pray for the families of those who have lost their lives and others who are injured, the state of Illinois will do everything necessary to help these communities recover,” Quinn said in a statement.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence said he was thankful that despite the massive property damage and significant number of injuries “there has been no loss of life in the Hoosier state.”
“We will help these families pick up the pieces and move on with their lives,” he told reporters after touring some of the damage.
President Barack Obama was briefed about the storms and will receive regular updates, the White House said.
The fast moving storm weakened overnight but still caused damage as it marched east through New York and Philadelphia, the National Weather Service said.