President Calls Quinn During Tour of Storm-Ravaged Areas

Preliminary information from NWS forecasters indicates as many as 30 tornadoes may have touched down Sunday

President Barack Obama called Gov. Pat Quinn Monday while Quinn was touring hard-hit Washington, Ill., and pledged to provide "whatever you need" as the governor updated him on the damage.

Quinn also passed the phone to Washington, Ill., Mayor Gary Manier, who also spoke directly with the president.

The Midwest head of FEMA, Andrew Velasquez, has also been in touch with Quinn via telephone to offer assistance.

Washington is apparently the hardest-hit community in the state, with more than 400 homes damaged or destroyed, one person killed and more than 120 injured when a powerful tornado raked across the small city Sunday.

Quinn toured Washington Monday, part of a statewide review of the damage left behind by the deadly string of late-season tornadoes. Scheduled stops were also made in Diamond, Gifford, Brookport and New Minden.

"Each of these communities in Illinois were hard hit yesterday by the deadliest tornadoes that we've ever had in the month of November in Illinois history," Quinn said before boarding a plane at Midway International Airport.

Statewide, officials said six people were confirmed dead. The storm was also blamed for two deaths in Michigan, NBC News reported.

"We ask God to bless the immortal souls of the six people who were killed yesterday by these tornadoes," Quinn said.

Quinn issued a declaration earlier in the day designating Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties as disaster areas.

As the cleanup got underway, Quinn said it was vitally important that residents put together a detailed log of all items lost.

"We need to make sure that we keep those records," he said. "This is very, very important because in so doing we ultimately go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency where they do a full assessment with the records that we provide them, and our hope to get a federal disaster declaration really rides on our ability to get all information."

Help in all forms is pouring into the Washington area, but Volk says it's a bit too early.

"We've been turning people away because at this point, we simply are not ready," Washington Police Chief Don Volk said. "The assessment has not been done, we have to get the power sources back up, we've still got sections of roadway that need to be clear. Until then, we're directing everyone who wants to talk about volunteers or providing equipment, whatever, they're going to be contacting the Tazewell County Health Department."

Tens of thousands remained without power Monday as communities across the Midwest began to take stock of the devastation.

In Illinois, a majority of those without power were concentrated near Peoria. Ameren Illinois' outage center showed 32,000 customers without power during the morning hours. Other outages were scattered across central and southern Illinois. At the peak, the utility said there were about 140,000 customers without electricity.

Preliminary information from National Weather Service forecasters indicated that as many as 30 tornadoes may have touched down around the state, Quinn said. 

"It's just hard to imagine. A lot of families, and myself included, were in church. We went to the basement during those services," said Washington Mayor Gary W. Manier. "The people were so resilient. They had just lost everything and they were looking for neighbors. They were worried about people down the street or somebody that they knew."

Illinois State Police trooper Dustin Pierce said the tornado there cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of the town of Washington to the other. Entire blocks were leveled.

Officials said a 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew put in place Sunday would likely remain in effect each day for about a week.

Manier said the cleanup of his community was going to take far longer.

"I understand good things are worth waiting for. I'm hoping we can get it turned around," he said, lamenting at the especially-unfortunate time of year for the storms. "It's not like we have a whole summer of construction season. With winter coming on it's going to be a little more difficult. Even the homes that are damaged and weren't leveled, as far tarping and trying to get a roof on before winter is going to be difficult.

In Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence planned to visit three communities to assess the damage leveled by storms there. Pence was scheduled to visit Kokomo, Lafayette and Washington, while the National Weather Services was dispatching three survey teams Monday to determine if storm damage was caused by tornadoes or high winds from thunderstorms.

Sunday's storms injured at least three people and cut power to tens of thousands in that state. Duke Energy alone reported about 24,000 customers still without power early Monday.

The hardest-hit area appeared to be Kokomo in north-central Indiana. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the storm that left streets littered with debris and damaged businesses and homes was the worst he's seen in the 48 years he's lived in the city.

NBCChicago is monitoring breaking developments using a Storify window to allow for quick updates and social media integration. 
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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