GALESBURG, Ill. — A tornado hit the small, rural Illinois town of Cameron just before dusk on Thursday, causing extensive damage but no significant injuries, state police said.
Search and rescue operations were continuing through the night in the town of about 600 people in Warren County that’s roughly 200 miles southwest of Chicago. No one except first responders was being allowed into the town.
“The tornado caused significant damage to the town,” including numerous power lines down and several gas leaks, Illinois State Police said in a statement.
The tornado touched down about a line of storms swept through an area stretching from Galesburg in western Illinois to the western suburbs of Chicago.
Cameron resident Mike Trout, 50, took refuge in his basement during the twister and said all he could hear was the roaring and windows breaking. Every window in his house was shattered and a 2-by-6-inch piece of lumber pierced through a wall of his home.
“I lived in this town in 1989 when the last tornado touched down,” he told the Galesburg Register-Mail. “The damage this time is far, far worse; 1989 doesn’t even compare to this.”
Local electric utility Ameren Illinois said thousands of customers in the area were without power. A temporary shelter was set up at United High School near the town of Monmouth.
National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Ervin said survey teams would be dispatched at first light Friday morning to determine extent of the damage and the strength of the tornado.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Department said a tornado swept through the towns of Kirkwood, Monmouth and Cameron, KWQC-TV reported.
Photographs posted on the KWQC website show damage to a grain silo and heavy damage to at least one house.
Gov. Bruce Rauner activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to deploy resources to help local emergency responders in affected areas.
“I activated the State Emergency Operations Center to ensure we’re ready to act quickly if any local responders need our assistance,” Rauner said in a statement. “Illinois State Police is already at the scene and we have staff from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency en route to the area to support local response efforts.”
Representatives from state agencies, who are assessing the storm’s damage and communicating with local officials, are reporting to the operations center, which will be activated as long as necessary.
Contributing: Ashlee Rezin