2 women killed in Illinois tornadoes were neighbors, friends

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In-Depth Look at the Illinois Tornado

FAIRDALE, Ill. (AP) - The two women killed by a devastating tornado system that barreled through northern Illinois shared a friendship, favors and, ultimately, a neighborhood that turned out to be ground zero for a twister that leveled much of their rural hamlet.

Jacklyn Klosa, 69, was found Friday morning in the rubble of her Fairdale home, not far from where Geraldine Schultz, 67, died Thursday night when the tornado zeroed in on their neighborhood as it cut through the region about 80 miles west of Chicago, injuring more than a dozen and ripping buildings from their foundations.

Schultz, known as "Geri," and remembered by neighbors as kind-hearted, hosted annual Christmas parties and made a point of driving Klosa to clinics for medical treatment. Klosa, known as "Jackie," was described by friends as a friendly and quick-witted woman who spoke her mind.

The county coroner said Klosa, who had no basement, was found hiding in her shower, clutching her purse.

Klosa "was just one of the most friendly people in the world, a wonderful mother and a wonderful friend," said Les Bellah, mayor of neighboring Kirkland, recalling the "big ol' hug" he got from her recently but also how she'd "let you know" if she was upset with you. "You never had to wonder what she was thinking."

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Illinois Tornado (April 2015)
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2 women killed in Illinois tornadoes were neighbors, friends

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!!!????
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St Louis storm! #hail
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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
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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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At least two tornadoes touched down in the six-county vicinity. Most of the injuries weren't considered serious. To the south in Ogle County, no one was injured although the tornado system caused severe damage to roughly 30 buildings in Rochelle and others in Flagg Township, according to Sherriff Brian VanVickle - who lost his own home.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner declared both Ogle and DeKalb counties as disaster areas, facilitating the use of state resources in the recovery efforts.

"We are very blessed that more people were not hurt. This was a devastating storm," Rauner said in the town of Flagg after touring the damage.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen said at least one tornado touched down near Fairdale and was initially rated an EF4, meaning it was capable of producing winds up to 200 mph. Damage survey teams were working Friday to officially determine how long tornadoes stayed on the ground, their strength and extent of the damage.

Meteorologist Matt Friedlein said the storms and cold front headed northeast, dumping snow in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and sweeping across the Ohio Valley overnight.

In Illinois, Fairdale was the hardest hit, though the storm also collapsed buildings in surrounding towns, including a restaurant in Roselle from which a dozen people had to be dug out of a storm cellar.

Fairdale has no village government, no school, no cable TV and no major businesses. Some residents kept horses in town; one family found one of its horses dead amid the debris Friday afternoon.

Children are bused to nearby Kirkland, where classes were canceled Friday. Gas lines to most other communities in the area also don't reach Fairdale - meaning residents relied on tanks of propane, the first thing that survivors smelled when they emerged from their shattered homes Thursday night.

"The rent was cheap over there," Bellah said. "It was unincorporated and people, they liked to live there because they didn't have to put up with a lot of 'government bull crap,' so to speak."

Kirkland firefighter Carl Bunder said there had already been an outpouring of help, with people calling in from all over the region offering to lend trucks, chainsaws or tractors.

All Fairdale homes were evacuated as a precaution and the electricity was out across the area. Trees, power lines and debris lay strewn on the ground, along with a sign welcoming people to town. Roofs from buildings were missing. Metal siding from barns was wrapped around trees.

Crews spent Thursday night and Friday going through the wreckage looking for missing residents, but authorities expressed confidence by the afternoon that they'd accounted for everyone.

Residents gathered Friday at a roadblock a mile from town, eager to check the damage to their homes. Police said it was too dangerous, and authorities said residents would likely be able to return by Saturday.

Al Zammuto, a 60-year-old machinist among those trying to get back in. He recalled the evening before when he and other residents received cellphone alerts at 6:45 p.m. - the town doesn't have sirens - 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 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."

Sue Meyer, an artist who lived nearby and knew Klosa and Schultz, said she moved to Fairdale for small-town serenity, but her community was unrecognizable moments after the weather struck. She described seeing people wandering everywhere.

"It was eerie," she said.

___

Tareen reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers David Mercer and Tammy Webber contributed to this report.

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