1 dead, homes destroyed in tiny Illinois town after tornado

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Tornado Destruction in Fairdale, IL
FAIRDALE, Ill. (AP) - Crews searched for missing residents Friday morning after at least one tornado brought chaos to a tiny northern Illinois town, killing one person, injuring roughly a dozen more and sweeping homes off their foundations, as a large storm system rumbled across much of the country.

One woman was killed and about 11 others were taken to hospitals after at least one twister hit Fairdale around 7 p.m. Thursday. Crews combed through each structure twice and were gearing up for a third search with equipment and by hand Friday morning.

Police and fire officials said at a Friday morning news conference that they weren't sure how many people were still unaccounted for in the community of roughly 150 people.

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Illinois Tornado (April 2015)
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1 dead, homes destroyed in tiny Illinois town after tornado

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, 11 people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

This Friday, April 10, 2015 aerial image made from video provided by ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) over Fairdale, Ill., shows damage after a tornado blew through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties.

(AP Photo/Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Michael West surveys the damage of his mother's home on IL-64 after a tornado swept through the night before, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Houses and property in ruin the morning after a tornado swept through the town the previous day on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

This Friday, April 10, 2015 aerial image made from video provided by ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) over Fairdale, Ill., shows damage after a tornado blew through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties.

(AP Photo/Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

A semi was knocked on its side while parked behind the restaurant Grubstakers on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Wreckage on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Metal is wrapped around a tree trunk on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: A street sign and stop sign lay in wreckage at IL-72 and West Street after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
New image of destruction from Fairdale, IL. Photo courtesy: Shane Nicholson, Managing Editor, The Rock River Times http://t.co/J4jg9xeqOP
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 10: Crews work on West Street in the early morning hours after a tornado went through the town April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Books lay on the ground on IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: A turtle plush on debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: People speak to police on West Street as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Stefanie and Matthew Hurley look at the wreckage on the IL-72 with their family after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: An American flag is caught in branches as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: An American flag is caught in branches as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
A house is destroyed after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Firefighters search for victims as they go door-to-door off Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Firefighters search for victims as they go door-to-door off Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Officials and residents walk through a street after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Trees are mangled on Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
1 dead, heavy damage reported in Fairdale, Illinois http://t.co/YbKG3vRWoG http://t.co/CTmUNMRaQW
What's left of a home in fairdale, il #tornado http://t.co/jUsy7u3jpK
BREAKING: At least 1 dead, many reported missing in Fairdale, just south of Rockford: http://t.co/o7mELPDs69 http://t.co/5Dplp0qj0o
Having difficulty getting access due to damage and debris. http://t.co/amwLnvLOoW
Latest on storm system, including tornadoes, that has caused severe damage in Illinois http://t.co/9J75mVp06F http://t.co/SLCdOSxYZK
UPDATE: 1 dead, 7 injured after tornado rips through northern Illinois town http://t.co/UW5PVLzudL http://t.co/qahDUfe1Z9
VIDEO: "That's going through subdivisions" -- Large tornado tears through Rochelle, IL - [Stephanie Sego Curtis] http://t.co/KBrxqPqwXP
RT @MikeCollierWX: Thanks to Cole Hicks for this picture of the Rochelle, Illinois tornado. http://t.co/3wloX4Mjkd
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Passengers check a departure display at O'Hare International Airport on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Severe weather and a tornado watch in the Chicago area has prompted the cancellation of over 600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Cancelled flights are shown on the departure display at O'Hare International Airport on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Severe weather and a tornado watch in the Chicago are has prompted the cancellation of over 600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
@weatherchannel @JimCantore Mesocyclone with wall cloud/ funnel cloud Morehead KS http://t.co/VcLagJgafx
What!!!!!!
What the hail!!!????
🎶God told Noah to build him and arky, arky...🎶
St Louis storm! #hail
Not sure but I think the apocalypse is fast-approaching #Cincinnati. Scary dark & heavy rain! http://t.co/8rR3ZiHka5
Cincinnati is looking way weird right now http://t.co/QokrZjrqWE
1993 was the last time the streets flooded this bad. #weregonnaneedabiggerboat http://t.co/sKkQXX2ol2
@chesterlampkin In #ellisville it looks like we just got a good snow. http://t.co/fprm3ziCRU
April showers... Large hail...
I bet that hail storm left some nice damage to the roof of my house. http://t.co/e35WLb8TQE
Hail falling in slo-mo! http://t.co/MSvY0WAGTA
Heres a time lapse of the storm in Richmond moving through Garrard. Shows the rotation. @IanOliverWX @Kentuckyweather http://t.co/O73A2FI5EE
National Weather Service assessing damage in Richmond: RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) - The National Weather Service (NWS)… http://t.co/p6OmC01GLO
National Weather Service assessing damage in Richmond http://t.co/004dAUNKYK http://t.co/53to6GKMZC
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"We're hoping our search will be fruitless, in the sense that we won't find anybody," Sycamore Fire Chief Peter Polarek said.

The deceased was identified Friday as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz. Authorities said those hospitalized did not have life-threatening injuries.

About 15 to 20 homes were destroyed in Fairdale, according to DeKalb County Sheriff Roger A. Scott. Matthew Knott, division chief for the Rockford Fire Department, told The Associated Press that just about every building in the town about 80 miles northwest of Chicago "sustained damage of some sort."

All homes were evacuated as a safety precaution and power was out across the area. The Red Cross and Salvation Army established a shelter at a local high school.

Trees, power lines and debris lay strewn on the ground. Some homes in the rural farming village were barely standing and many had shifted from their foundations. Roofs were missing. Metal siding from barns was wrapped around trees.

Residents gathered at a road block a mile from town Friday morning, eager to check the damage to their homes. Police, though, refused entry saying it was too dangerous.

Resident Al Zammuto, a 60-year-old machinist, said he and other residents received cellphone alerts at 6:45 p.m., but he dismissed it as previous warnings hadn't amounted to anything.

Then his windows exploded.

He took cover as the severe weather struck. Bricks were torn off the side of his home. Minutes later he stepped outside and couldn't believe his eyes. He said the town looked trashed "looked like a landfill" and the sounds were haunting.

"People were screaming and yelling," he said. "People were in total shock."

National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Friedlein said at least two tornadoes swept through six north-central Illinois counties, and that damage survey teams would visit the area to determine how long they stayed on the ground, their strength and the extent of the damage.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was traveling Friday morning to survey damage in the region, county authorities said.

After raking Illinois, Thursday's storm and cold front headed northeast, dumping snow in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and sweeping across the Ohio Valley overnight, Friedlein said. The system was headed into the Appalachian region Friday morning with the potential for severe thunderstorms but "not anywhere near the threat" that it packed in the Midwest, he said.

Roughly 30 homes were damaged or destroyed in Ogle County, adjacent to DeKalb, Sheriff Brian VanVickle said, adding no deaths or significant injuries were reported there. He said 12 people were trapped in the storm cellar beneath a restaurant that collapsed in the storm in Rochelle, about 20 miles southwest of Fairdale.

One of those rescued from the Grubsteakers restaurant, Raymond Kramer, 81, told Chicago's WLS-TV they were trapped for 90 minutes before emergency crews were able to rescue them, unscathed.

"No sooner did we get down there, when it hit the building and laid a whole metal wall on top of the doors where we went into the storm cellar," Kramer said. "When the tornado hit, we all got a dust bath. Everyone in there got shattered with dust and debris falling out of the rafters."

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