Gov. Bruce Rauner joined local officials in Naplate Wednesday to survey the damage of deadly tornadoes that ripped across the state of Illinois.
Naplate was where one of six tornadoes were reported to have touched down during a round of violent and severe storms Tuesday night.
The National Weather Service is also expected to arrive at the scene to determine the final count of exactly how many tornadoes touched down during the rare February storms and how powerful they were.
Early Tuesday evening Gov. Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to ensure state personnel and equipment would be ready to be quickly deployed if needed.
“Fortunately there was a good warning system and people knew that the storms were developing and they were coming,” Rauner said.
Two people were killed in Illinois and more than a dozen others were injured. Another person also died in Missouri while the violent storm system tore across many areas of the upper Midwest.
The compact but strong storms, known as supercells raked parts of Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri before moving into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. The spring-like storm system spawned tornadoes that destroyed more than 100 homes before it rumbled eastward Wednesday, putting about 95 million people in its path, forecasters said.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Gov. Rauner said Wednesday. “We have to count our blessings.”
Emotions were running high for residents of Naplate, including Mayor Jim Rick, as daylight brought the first look at the extent of the destruction to his town. At last thirty percent of all the homes in the city suffered damage from the storm.
“We’re just a bunch of common, hardworking people,” said Rick after he joined Gov. Rauner on a tour of the village.
“A lot of people have been here their whole lives and it's tough to see your town in this shape,” Rick said.