Pritzker issues disaster proclamation after tornadoes hit Illinois, killing 4

The governor signed the proclamation late Saturday, allowing the state to send assistance to Boone, Crawford, DuPage, Marion and Sangamon counties.

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Crews try to remove a roof that collapsed on a car and clean up debris from the aftermath of a severe storm outside Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Ill., Saturday, April 1, 2023, where one person was killed and dozens were injured during a heavy metal concert the night before.

Crews try to remove a roof that collapsed on a car and clean up debris from the aftermath of a severe storm outside Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Ill., on Saturday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation after more than a dozen tornados tore across Illinois Friday night, killing a man after a roof collapsed at a packed concert venue in Belvidere, outside of Rockford, and killing three more in downstate Crawford County.

Pritzker signed the proclamation late Saturday, allowing the state to send assistance to DuPage, Boone, Crawford, Marion and Sangamon counties.

“The devastating storms that swept through our state last night have upended communities and resulted in heartbreaking injury and loss of life,” Pritzker said in a statement.

The severe weather was part of a system that tore through the South and Midwest, killing at least 27 people in total across Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.

Pritzker visited the destruction in Belvidere on Sunday, where an EF-1 tornado hit with winds as high as 100 mph, collapsing the roof the Apollo Theatre as more than 200 people attended a heavy metal concert.

Crews clean up debris from the aftermath of a severe storm outside Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Ill., Saturday, April 1, 2023.

Crews clean up debris from the aftermath of a severe storm outside Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Ill., Saturday, where one person was killed and dozens were injured during a heavy metal concert the night before.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

One concertgoer died in the rubble. He was identified as Frederick Forest Livingston Jr., 50.

Livingston was standing next to his son as the roof crashed down on him.

“I couldn’t save him,” his son, Alex Livingston, told ABC7-Chicago. “It happened so fast.”

Forty-eight people were taken to hospitals, Pritzker said. About half had been discharged by Saturday afternoon, but Pritzker said five remained in critical condition.

“I’m really grateful to the residents here in Belvidere and to the concertgoers and first responders who risked their lives on Friday night to pull people out of the rubble and wreckage,” Pritzker said Sunday.

“Lives were saved because of the quick work of the people who live here and work here.”

The community already was reeling from the Feb. 28 closing of its Jeep manufacturing plant. All 1,350 workers at the plant were laid off indefinitely, and parent company Stellantis said it expected the layoffs would exceed six months.

Meteorologists have confirmed 14 tornadoes hit northern Illinois and Indiana on Friday. The closest confirmed tornado near Chicago was an EF-1 that hit from Lombard to Addison, according to the National Weather Service.

Another tornado hit from Montgomery to Aurora, from near Orchard Road to Phillips Park, the Weather Service confirmed Sunday afternoon. A tornado was also confirmed in Plainfield along 135th Street, according to the Weather Service.

In Crawford County, three people were killed and eight injured when a tornado hit near New Hebron, causing several roofs to collapse, authorities said.

It may take two to three more days to assess the damage across the state, Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau told reporters Sunday.

IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau and Gov. J.B. Pritzker speak after surveying damage in Belvidere on Sunday, April 2, 2023.

IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau and Gov. J.B. Pritzker speak after surveying damage in Belvidere on Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Illinois.gov livestream

The IEMA said tornadoes also caused damage in other several towns across the state:

  • In Boone and Crawford County, around 30 buildings were damaged, including at Robinson Airport.
  • In Sangamon County, a tornado damaged several buildings in Sherman, Riverton and Dawson.
  • In Marion County, about a dozen homes and businesses were damaged In Addison in DuPage County, several buildings were damaged.

The National Weather Service said it will survey the destruction in the coming days to confirm if tornadoes also hit Batavia, Plano, Frankfort and Park Forest.

Contributing: Associated Press

The Apollo Theatre in Belvidere on April 1, 2023, the morning after high winds knocked down the roof of the building during a concert, killing one.

Crews clear the scene at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere on Saturday, the morning after high winds knocked down the roof of the building during a concert, killing one.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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National Weather Service

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