Infant Dubbed 'Tornado Baby' After Surviving Ill. Storms

Saturday, Nov 30, 2013  |  Updated 4:10 PM CDT
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Sifting through the Rubble

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WASHINGTON, IL - NOVEMBER 18: People survey the damage in the Washington Estates sudivision in the aftermath of a tornado on November 18, 2013 in Washington, Illinois. A fast-moving storm system that produced several tornadoes that touched down across the Midwest left behind a path of destruction in 12 states. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Tornado Victims Celebrate Thanksgiving

Help is pouring in from all over for the victims of deadly tornadoes that hit South Western Illinois a week and a half ago. NBC 5's Natalie Martinez reports.

Sifting through the Rubble

In tornado-devastated Washington, residents are racing against time to gather whatever’s left of their belongings. They were allowed back in their homes for the first time Friday, for the heartbreaking task of looking for anything worth saving. They’ll be allowed in again this weekend, before demolition begins early next week. NBC 5’s Lauren Jiggetts reports.
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A central Illinois couple whose house was destroyed by a tornado one day after they brought their newborn daughter home say they've been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers.

Jason and Mari Eaton of Diamond told WLS-TV and the Joliet Herald-News they brought their 2-day-old daughter, Ariana, home from the hospital on Nov. 16.

The next day, severe weather ripped through Illinois. The storms damaged at least 225 houses in Diamond and nearby Coal City, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. At least seven people died from injuries sustained during the storms.

The Eatons waited out the storm at a relative's house, where Ariana slept through the noise.

"It was scary. I was afraid we wouldn't be here," Mari Eaton said.

When they returned to their home, they found piles of debris and rubble. The newly decorated baby's room — with all of her gifts and necessities — was trashed.

But as word of what happened spread, strangers started calling and offering to help. Volunteers showed up with coffee and food. People they didn't know began sending money and gifts for Ariana, who's come to be known as "Tornado Baby."

"Somebody said, 'Can I take a picture of the Tornado Baby? She is the light in all this darkness,'" Mari Eaton said.

The Eatons said they're grateful their baby is safe. They also said the experience has made their family stronger and that they plan to rebuild. They're hoping to be able to move back to Diamond by summer.

"After this, I really can't see myself living anywhere else," Mari Eaton said.

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