WASHINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he's received a phone call from President Barack Obama after fatal storms hit Obama's home state.
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Monday that Quinn received the call on his cellphone while touring damage in the central Illinois community of Washington. The community was among the hardest hit. The White House confirmed the call, saying Obama relayed concern and expressed gratitude for the responders.
Quinn gave Obama an update on the damage, relief efforts and emergency response. Quinn was with Washington Mayor Gary Manier, who also spoke to Obama.
Authorities say six people died in Sunday's storms when tornadoes flattened homes and caused severe damage. So far seven counties have been declared state disaster areas.
Storms that swept across the Midwest left at least six people dead and unleashed powerful winds that flattened neighborhoods, flipped over cars and uprooted trees.
The National Weather Service has confirmed preliminary EF-4 tornado damage about 50 miles east of St. Louis near New Minden, Illinois -- where two people were killed.
Washington, a town of 16,000 about 170 miles north of St. Louis, appeared to have the most severe damage. State Trooper Dustin Pierce says the tornado there cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of town to the other. Entire blocks of Washington were leveled. One person was killed. The National Guard has been called in to police the damaged neighborhoods.
Three others died in Massac County in far southern Illinois.
It wasn't tornadoes, but straight line winds that brought down trees and power lines on the Missouri side of the St. Louis metro area.
Two empty buildings reportedly toppled in the City of St. Louis.
In Wentzville, Heritage Primary Elementary school will open Monday, despite having parts of its roof blown off. The students will reportedly be moved to different classrooms.
The wind is being blamed for several interstate accidents, including one involving an overturned semi that closed the Poplar Street Bridge for several hours and an eight-car pile up along the I-70 depressed section downtown.
Crews are still working to clear downed trees, power lines and other debris from some St. Louis area roads. Drivers are urged to use caution this morning as traffic signals remain out at some intersections and some streets may still be littered with debris.
The power is still out for many in the St. Louis area as well. At the height of the storm, Ameren was reporting more than 50,000 metro-area customers were affected. Ameren opened an emergency operations center Sunday afternoon and crews have been working all day to restore power.
At 3:00 a.m, more than 6,700 Ameren Missouri customers and just over 2,500 metro-east customers were still in the dark.
Updated at 12:49 pm:
The Tornado Watch has been canceled for St. Louis city and areas West. The severe weather threat continues to move through Illinois.
Damage reports are widespread. Ranging from vehicles blown off the road on I-270 to large trees uprooted in St. Louis City.
At around 11:40 AM, a powerful storm blew through Kirkwood then traveled into St. Louis City. That storm had wind gusts estimated at 60 miles per hour.
A Tornado Watch has been issued for much of the listening area. The watch includes 13 counties in Missouri and 17 counties in Illinois. The complete text of the watch is below. A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe storms that could produce tornadoes.
The entire metro area is under a wind advisory. Winds could gust as high as 45 miles an hour.
Thunderstorms are expected to develop in the St. Louis area around midday before heading into Illinois. The storms will also bring a cold front to St. Louis. Temperatures are in the 70's in the morning, but will fall into the 50's by the evening.
Full text of Tornado Watch
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED TORNADO WATCH 561 IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM CST THIS AFTERNOON FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS
IN ILLINOIS THIS WATCH INCLUDES 17 COUNTIES
IN SOUTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS
BOND IL CLINTON IL FAYETTE IL MARION IL MONTGOMERY IL WASHINGTON IL
IN SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS
CALHOUN IL GREENE IL JERSEY IL MACOUPIN IL MADISON IL MONROE IL RANDOLPH IL ST. CLAIR IL
IN WEST CENTRAL ILLINOIS
ADAMS IL BROWN IL PIKE IL
IN MISSOURI THIS WATCH INCLUDES 13 COUNTIES
IN CENTRAL MISSOURI
AUDRAIN MO CALLAWAY MO OSAGE MO
IN EAST CENTRAL MISSOURI
FRANKLIN MO GASCONADE MO JEFFERSON MO LINCOLN MO MONTGOMERY MO ST. CHARLES MO ST. LOUIS MO WARREN MO
IN NORTHEAST MISSOURI
PIKE MO RALLS MO
IN MISSOURI THIS WATCH INCLUDES 1 INDEPENDENT CITY
IN EAST CENTRAL MISSOURI
ST. LOUIS CITY MO
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF... BELLEVILLE... BOWLING GREEN... CHESTER... EDWARDSVILLE... LITCHFIELD... MEXICO... QUINCY... SALEM... ST CHARLES... ST LOUIS... UNION AND VANDALIA.
CHICAGO (AP) — A number of Midwestern states are awakening to the threat of a high risk of severe thunderstorms.
The National Weather Service says parts of Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio are at the greatest risk of seeing tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds Sunday.
The agency says strong winds and atmospheric instability will sweep across the Central Plains during the day before pushing into the Mid-Atlantic states and northeast by evening.
It says the potential for strong and long-track tornadoes will center on the Ohio Valley and adjacent Midwestern states.
Many of the storms are expected to become supercells, with the potential to produce tornadoes, large hail and destructive winds.
The weather service says local and state authorities are monitoring the weather.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Governor Jay Nixon says low-interest loans will be available to residents and business owners in several eastern Missouri communities hit by damaging weather from May 29th through June 10th.
Nixon's office said Friday the U.S. Small Business Administration has granted the state's request for the assistance.
The low-interest loans will be offered in the city of St. Louis and in St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln and Warren counties.
Homeowners, renters, business owners and nonprofit organizations may apply for the loans to repair or replace property, equipment and inventory damaged by floods, high winds hail and tornadoes.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Governor Jay Nixon is requesting a federal major disaster declaration for severe storms that struck Missouri from May 29th to June 10th.
The storms included one that spawned a tornado in the St. Louis area and others that caused widespread flooding.
Nixon's request Wednesday is for public assistance to 30 counties statewide from Barton County on the border with Kansas to St. Louis County. The governor also is requesting individual assistance for Callaway, Lincoln, Montgomery, Osage, Pike, St. Charles and St. Louis counties.
Public assistance allows local officials to seek aid for response and recovery efforts. Individual assistance allows households to seek federal aid for uninsured losses.
The National Weather Service has increased the number of tornadoes that touched down in the St. Louis are last week to nine.
The largest and most damaging of the twisters was the EF-3 that cut a 32 mile path of destruction through St. Charles County and north St. Louis County.
Another EF-3 tornado his ripped through Roxana, Illinois, doing serious damage to the landfill. Macoupin County was hit by EF-2 and EF-1 twisters, with one severely damaging a high school gym in Gillispie.
Additionally, there were two EF-1 tornadoes in Franklin and Jefferson Counties, and three EF-0 tornadoes in Montgomery County
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Waves of violent weather spawning high winds and tornado have torn through the St. Louis area, downing trees and power lines and sending gamblers rushing from a casino floor. There were no immediate, confirmed reports of injuries.
The storms that began pounding the region around 6:30 p.m. prompted numerous tornado warnings, with at least a few confirmed sightings from Montgomery County about 70 miles west of St. Louis into St. Louis County itself. Many homes were damaged in St. Charles County, specifically at Whitmoor Country Club and other nearby subdivisions.
Emergency management officials say the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights lost its roof. Investigators did find the building structurally safe. The casino is set to reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Audience members at Friday night's Circus Flora performance were moved from under the big top to the nearby VA shelter during intermission in the city's Grand Center Theater District.
The National Weather service is trying to determine if storm damage in parts of St. Clair County Thursday evening was caused by straight line winds or a small tornado.
The county Emergency Management Agency reports that the worst damage was in Marissa, Illinois, about 40 southeast of St. Louis. That's where there were several unconfirmed reports of a tornado touching down about 7:00 p.m.
Marissa resident Alice Steinheimer was still shaking when she spoke with Fox 2 News after the storm knocked down several trees on her property. She said it was a frightening evening. "It was scary, believe me," she said. "I thought we was havin' a tornado. And I don't like them tornadoes."
Steinheimer said the tree damage is overwhelming. "Oh my God, it's something," she said. "I don't know how I'm going to get this mess cleaned up."
Several car and homes were also damaged in the Marissa area.
SHAWNEE, OK (AP) - Hearing on the radio that a violent storm was approaching her rural Oklahoma neighborhood, Lindsay Carter took advantage of the advanced warning, gathered her belongings and fled. When she returned, there was little left of the community she called home.
Several tornadoes struck parts of the nation's midsection Sunday, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan. One person was killed near Shawnee, Okla., and 21 injuries were reported throughout the state.
Victims and emergency responders might not get much of reprieve as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center was forecasting similar weather for Monday over much of the same area.
The worst of the damage Sunday appeared to be at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park located amid gently rolling hills about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
"It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."
Hoke said he started trying to help neighbors and found his wife's father covered in rubble.
"My father-in-law was buried under the house. We had to pull Sheetrock off of him," Hoke said.
Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since last Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word Sunday, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.
"There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Booth said. "This is the worst I've seen in Pottawatomie County in my 25 years of law enforcement."
Carter had heard on a radio broadcast that a storm that had originated southwest of Oklahoma City was headed toward Shawnee.
"We got in the truck and left," Carter said. With upward of 30 minutes' notice for Pottawatomie County, Carter had time to leave one of the few frame homes in Steelman Estates — and most of her house was intact when she returned.
"I walked up, and the house was OK. Part of the roof was gone," she said.
The scene was different a short distance away.
"Trees were all gone. I walked further down and all those houses were gone," she said.
Booth said a 79-year-old man was found dead out in the open at Steelman Estates, but the sheriff didn't have details on where he had lived.
"You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Booth said. "It looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.
"It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out," he said.
Tornadoes were reported Sunday in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of a storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.
Following the Oklahoma twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone. Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.
A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth "scoured" at the mobile home park. At the nearby intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. 177, a half-dozen tractor-trailers were blown over, closing both highways for a time.