A tornado swept through communities in heavily populated suburban Chicago, damaging more than 100 homes, toppling trees, knocking out power and causing multiple injuries, officials said.
At least eight people were hospitalized in Naperville, where fire officials said 22 homes were destroyed and dozens of others were damaged when a tornado touched down after 11 pm Sunday (04:00 GMT), according to city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche.
More than 120 other reports of property damage had been received by 5 am Monday (10:00 GMT) in the suburb of 147,500 people that is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Chicago. Those were expected to grow as residents surveyed the damage, she said. About 450 power outages were reported.
“We’re lucky that it wasn’t worse,” LaCloche said Monday morning. “We have a lot of utility poles and electrical wires down, and tree damage.”
The video showed several large trees downed and damage to homes and vehicles. Some gas leaks were reported in Naperville, and crews went door to door shutting off lines, LaCloche said.
Officials in the nearby village of Woodridge said a tornado damaged at least 100 structures. The village’s fire chief said three people were taken to hospitals, but he could not provide more details on their injuries during a Monday press conference.
Woodridge Police Chief Brian Cunningham said early warnings told people to take shelter and likely minimized the number of injuries.
“It was a nighttime event, a lot of people were sleeping, weren’t aware of what was going on,” he said. “The early warning got people to shelter. And the fact that there are only three people injured and the amount of devastation that’s in the community, it’s just amazing.”
The storm destroyed the second floor of Bridget Casey’s Woodridge home. She sat in a lawn chair in the driveway before sunrise Monday. Her 16-year-old son, Nate, said he was watching TV when the storm swept through and he raced to help his mother get his three younger siblings to the basement.
“I just heard a loud crash and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, what are my brothers up to?’ I go look and I see the sky, and then I hear my brothers screaming from the room,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mayor Gina Cunningham called the damage to homes and other property in the village “extensive”.
“I’m just emotional because it is devastating to drive through the community that I grew up in and worked in and share with so many wonderful neighbours,” she said.