Tornado Rescue

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Tornado Rescue Empty Tornado Rescue

Post  Raymond_Smith on Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:13 pm

More than 80 tornadoes reported in the Midwest.

Helping people to clean up. Shelter, rebuilld.

Midwest instructed to get in the basement in case of scenario.

Usual Tornado instructions: Stay away from windows or other things that might break in a tornado.

Survivors shaken by deadly Midwest tornado outbreak
Published November 19, 2013Associated Press

Deadly tornadoes, storms tear apart homes in Midwest
Rescuers fan across six Midwestern states in a search for victims on Monday, a day after a series of deadly tornadoes and powerful storms killed six people, destroyed homes and left hundreds of thousands without power.
ST. LOUIS –  Nestled among the quiet fields of corn and beans that dominate the southwest Illinois landscape, Joe Hoy's llamas, ducks, rabbits and goats provided a cherished soundtrack for his neighbors and were a source of fascination for area children who would stop by to see them.

The farm was gone in a flash Sunday, as one of several powerful tornadoes that touched down in Illinois and elsewhere in the Midwest raked the 80-year-old Hoy's property near New Minden, killing him, his sister and their menagerie and destroying their house and fields.

"Joe Hoy had a heart as big as all of the outdoors," said Judy Harmening, whose own farm a quarter-mile away was left untouched. "We could sit on our porch and listen to the sounds that came up from that farm. We didn't know what bird or animal it was, but I'll miss that."

Sunday's tornadoes, which were notable for how destructive they were and how late in the year they struck, killed at least six people in Illinois and two others in Michigan and injured hundreds of others. The six deaths were the most from tornadoes on any November day in Illinois' state history, the National Weather Service confirmed Monday.

In addition to the deaths of Hoy and his 78-year-old sister, Frances Hoy, three people were killed in Brookport, a town in Massac County, in Illinois' southern tip. Another person was killed in Washington, a central Illinois city of about 16,000 residents where Mayor Garry Manier said hundreds of homes had been damaged or destroyed.

The National Weather Service said the Washington tornado, like the one that flattened Hoy's farm, had a preliminary rating of EF-4, meaning it had wind speeds of 170 to 190 mph.

The state's Emergency Management Agency said 150 to 200 people were injured in Illinois, and Gov. Pat Quinn declared portions of Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties to be disaster areas. He updated President Barack Obama about the damage and relief efforts in Obama's home state during a phone call Monday, said Quinn's spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson.

Many residents of affected areas said they knew what was coming, having seen weather alerts on their television screens. But they still raced for shelter, with Harmening barely able to get her father, who uses a walker, into the house as the wind became fierce and the sky turned ominously gray. They didn't quite make it to the basement.

"There was no rain with it. We're lucky we had 10 or 12 drops of rain," Harmening said. Just seconds later, "the sun was shining, and there was a rainbow off to the east. It was the weirdest storm I've ever witnessed."

The coroner said Hoy's body was found about 100 yards from where his house stood. Frances Hoy, who Harmening said was developmentally disabled and cared for by her brother, died later at a hospital.

In tiny New Minden, the storm toppled a church steeple and cemetery headstones and tore the roof off a convenience store, said the town's president, Candi Cross. But she said the village dodged the storm's brunt when the twister she saw coming across a field suddenly turned away from town as she ran for cover to her mom's neighboring home, her Chihuahua clutched to her chest.

"The leaves were twirling around me, higher than I am tall," she said. "It took everything I could to stand up straight and run. I no more got to my mom's house, and it was all over with. It just took seconds.

"If that tornado would have taken the path it was coming, we probably would have been leveled."

In Brookport, with about 1,000 residents, Alderman Larry Call said dozens of homes, mostly trailer homes, on the outskirts of town were destroyed. The three people killed there ranged in age from 56 to 63 years old, the Illinois State Police said.

The weather service said those who have surveyed the damage in Brookport believe that the tornado that struck there reached EF3 strength at times, meaning it was packing 140-mph winds and averaging 250 yards wide.

Brookport Alderman Larry Call said that as the twister approached the town on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., several people hunkered down with him at the First Christian Church, where he is the pastor.

Call said he heard "an extremely loud pop," and later found that the noise came from a plank that was sent flying through his pickup truck's windshield.

The damage around Brookport "almost looks like a number of dashes across a page," said 64-year-old Call, whose church ultimately served as the town's command center. "The tornado set down on the western edge of town, then did a hop, skip and a jump. By the time it got to the eastern side, it sat down in earnest again. It just seemed to skip over the central portion of town."

Some 32,000 homes and business still were without power Monday afternoon, down from the outage peak of nearly 220,000.

November 19, 2013 (WASHINGTON, Ill.) -- Aaron Montgomery's house was not damaged by the tornado that roared through this central Illinois community. But when the twister knocked out power across town, he had to find a way to keep his 5-year-old daughter alive.

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The recipient of a heart transplant last year, Isabel Montgomery requires machinery to help her breathe and eat. So her father furiously made calls looking for help, finally getting through to a construction company that loaned two generators.
"I baby-sat the generators with a gas can last night to make sure they were full and running," he said Monday.

The cleanup from Sunday's outbreak of tornadoes had scarcely begun, but people in storm-ravaged towns like Washington, 140 miles southwest of Chicago, had to keep moving.

The tornado cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of Washington to the other and damaged or destroyed as many as 500 homes.

It could be days before power is restored in the town of 16,000, state officials said Monday, and debris was still scattered across the streets. But people forced out of their homes were allowed back in Monday to survey damage and see what they could save.

In one neighborhood, homeowners and their friends and families worked quickly in a stiff, cold breeze. Some homes had been shattered into piles of brick, drywall and lumber. Others, like Jessica Bochart's house, still had sections standing.

"All of this can be replaced," she said, gesturing at the collapsed remnants of her ceiling. But inside the home she shares with her husband, son and daughter, she was relieved to find some irreplaceable things intact - photos, family heirlooms and the Bochart's cat, Patches.

"He was sitting under our dining table, looking like, 'What happened?'" Bochart said as she weighed the next set of decisions. Among them: Where will the family live for now? Offers from friends and family had poured in, and they were in a hotel for the moment, but she hesitated with the decision.

"I don't know," she said after a long moment's thought.

Though the powerful line of thunderstorms and tornadoes howled across 12 states Sunday, flattening neighborhoods in minutes, the death toll stood at just eight.

Forecasters' uncannily accurate predictions, combined with television and radio warnings, text-message alerts and storm sirens, almost certainly saved lives.

But in Washington, the hardest-hit town, many families, like the Bocharts, were also in church.

"I don't think we had one church damaged," Mayor Gary Manier said.

Daniel Bennett was officiating Sunday service before 600 to 700 people when he heard a warning. Then another. And another.

"I'd say probably two dozen phones started going off in the service, and everybody started looking down," he said.

What they saw was a text message that a twister was in the area.

Bennett stopped the service and ushered everyone to a safe place until the threat passed.

A day later, many in the community believed that the messages helped minimize the number of dead and injured.

"That's got to be connected," Bennett said as he bicycled through a neighborhood looking for parishioners' homes. "The ability to get instant information."

Another factor was forecasting, which has steadily improved with the arrival of faster, more powerful computers. Scientists are now better able to replicate atmospheric processes into mathematical equations.

In the last decade alone, forecasters have doubled the number of days in advance that weather experts can anticipate major storms, said Bill Bunting of the National Weather Service.

But Bunting, forecast operations chief of the service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said it was not until Saturday that the atmospheric instability that turns smaller storm systems into larger, more menacing ones came into focus.

Information from weather stations, weather balloons, satellite imagery and radar told scientists that there was more than enough moisture - fuel for storms - making its way northeast from the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite Sunday's destruction and at least eight deaths, 2013 has been a relatively mild year for twisters in the U.S., with the number of twisters running at or near record lows.

So far this year, there have been 886 preliminary reports of tornadoes, compared with about 1,400 preliminary reports usually received by the weather service office by mid-November.

Similar slow years were 1987 and 1989.

An outbreak like the one that developed Sunday usually happens about once every seven to 10 years, according to tornado experts at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center and National Severe Storm Lab in Norman, Okla.

There were similar November outbreaks in 1992 and 2002, with the 1992 one being even bigger than this year's, said top tornado researcher Harold Brooks at the storm lab.

The outbreak occurred because of unusually warm moist air from Louisiana to Michigan that was then hit by an upper-level cold front. That crash of hot and cold, dry and wet, is what triggers tornadoes.

Like most November storms, this one was high in wind shear and lower in moist energy. Wind shear is the difference between winds at high altitude and wind near the surface.

Because it was high in wind shear, the storm system moved fast, like a speeding car, Brooks said. That meant the storm hit more places before it petered out, affecting more people, but it might have been slightly less damaging where it hit because it was moving so fast, he said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


The Red Cross is mobilizing operations out of the Greater Chicago Region and Peoria chapters to respond. Two shelters are open in the Chicago area, one in southern Cook County and another in Grundy County. In addition, four more shelters are open in central Illinois where the communities of Washington and Pekin were hit hard. Locations include:

New Community Church - 14801 Lincoln Ave. in Dolton
Coal City High School  655 W. Division St. in Coal City
Crossroads United Methodist Church  1420 N. Main St in Washington
Evangelical United Methodist Church  401 Main St in Washington
First United Methodist Church  154 E. Washington St in East Peoria
Avanti's Dome  3105 Griffin Avenue in Pekin


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