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Tornado causes damage in Coal City area

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 2:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 10:04 p.m. CDT
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(Heidi Litchfield - For the Morris Daily Herald)
EZ Living RV in Diamond on Sunday afternoon. The road was blocked due to a propane leak, according to a Channahon police officer directing traffic.
Caption
(Jessica Bourque — jbourque@sha)
Tornado damage on East Frontage Road off Interstate 55. Wilmington police were on the scene and confirmed a tornado touched down near Interstate 55 and Lorenzo Road.

COAL CITY – At least 100 residential and commercial buildings have been damaged and four people have been injured due to a tornado that hit the Coal City and Diamond area Sunday.

“(Damage) was mostly contained in Diamond. We did have commercial and residential collapses,” said Nick Doerfler, spokesman for the Coal City Fire Protection District.

Four people were injured and there were no reported fatalities as of 4 p.m.

Emergency responders are still checking on damage throughout the county, but buildings hit in Coal City have been cleared of any people who could have been trapped inside.

“Initially we thought there was, but we searched all the buildings there,” Jim Lutz, Grundy County Emergency Management Agency director, said shortly after 3 p.m..

Buildings were still being searched in Wilmington as of 3:15 p.m.

Local offiicals said the tornado touched down shortly before noon. At an evening press conference, local officials said the first place it touched down was Cardinal Trucking Co., and it then headed northeast into Diamond Estates. The tornado also touched down around Berta and Spring roads, which is inside Coal City’s corporate limits. Power lines are down in that entire area, Lutz said.

“I do not know of any serious injuries or fatalities in our area,” Lutz said. “We’ve cleared most of the damaged buildings in Grundy County.”

The county was still being checked, but Lutz said he had not heard any more reports of touchdowns anywhere else in Grundy County. A news conference is planned for 6 p.m. to update the media.

Emergency responders were still working, Doerfler said about 4 p.m., and officials were working with ComEd due to numerous power lines being down in the area.

School has been canceled for Monday for Coal City Community Unit School District 1, Superintendent Kent Bugg said, due to having no bus service.

“Illinois Central School Bus was hit hard by the tornado. It damaged most of their buses. They only have five working buses,” he said.

None of the school district’s schools were damaged and are being opened up as shelters if needed, Bugg said. If anyone is in need of shelter Bugg said to call him at 815-651-1602.

Bugg could see the tornado coming straight for his home Sunday when it suddenly took a right turn down Spring Road, missing his house.

“It was a scary afternoon,” he said.

Sgt. Mark Simon of the Illinois Conservation Police said Christian Life Assembly Church had been damaged, and described EZ Living RV park as "devastated." Diamond Estates was evacuated at one point, Simon said, as many structures were unsafe due to the winds.

Severe damage is reported near Berta Road and Spring Road. There also is damage to the bus barn on Broadway in Coal City.

Nick Doerfler, spokesman for Coal City's fire department, said the county's emergency management agency has requested assistance from other emergency services in the state.

Authorities are asking everyone to stay in their residences and off the roadways so emergency crews can work, he said. There are reports of many power lines being down, and ComEd is working on those.

Grundy EMA was also working with Braidwood on storm issues.

“Various departments are asking for resources and we’re finding them for them,” Lutz said.

Morris was in good shape besides debris landing around the city including corn stalks and insulation.

Local spotters and authorities said the tornado in Coal City was on the ground for “a long distance,” Lutz said. It was spotted off Illinois 47 and traveled on until it was out of the county.

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