1 dead, homes destroyed in Illinois town after tornado

World Today

In this photo provided by Emily Mains, a tornado is viewed near Pearl Street from a home in the Kennedy’s subdivision in Kirkland, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. One person was killed in the tiny community of Fairdale, James Joseph with the Illinois Department of Emergency Management said. (AP Photo/Emily Mains)

A tornado hit Fairdale, a tiny town in Illinois state, killing one person, injuring seven, and sweeping homes off their foundations as large storm system swept across a large swath of the U.S.

The vast storm system brought high winds and rain to east Texas, ripping off a church rooftop there and damaging a nursing home, prompting an evacuation, authorities said.

In the Illinois town of Fairdale, a 67-year-old woman was found dead inside her home, county coroner Dennis Miller said at a news conference early Friday. Seven others were taken to hospitals with injuries after the National Weather Service first tweeted about 7 p.m. Thursday that a tornado was on the ground in the region.

In Fairdale, an unincorporated town of about 200 residents about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Chicago, “17 structures have been determined to be destroyed,” Matthew Knott, division chief for the Rockford Fire Department, told The Associated Press. “All of the others have sustained damage of some sort.”

The town’s power was out early Friday, and everyone had been evacuated. A shelter was set up at a nearby high school.

Some 20 additional homes were severely damaged or destroyed in nearby Ogle County, Sheriff Brian Van Vickle said, adding no deaths or significant injuries were reported there.

Van Vickle said 12 people were trapped in the basement of a restaurant in Rochelle in that state that collapsed during the storm.

One of those rescued from the restaurant, Raymond Kramer, 81, told Chicago’s WLS-TV that he was trapped with 11 others in the storm cellar for 90 minutes. They were freed unharmed only after emergency crews removed debris that had fallen all around.

The severe weather, the region’s first widespread bout, forced the cancellation of more than 850 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and dozens of others at the city’s Midway International Airport.

Story by the Associated Press.