Tornadoes rip through Midwest; 6 dead, dozens injured, communities devastated

Tornadoes rip through Midwest; 6 dead, dozens injured, communities devastated

Tornadoes tore through Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky on Sunday, part of a dangerous line of fast-moving storms that ripped through the Midwest, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more.

According to the National Weather Service, more than 80 tornadoes were reported across the region, though that figure likely includes duplicates.

At least 10 states were under severe weather alerts, as tornado watches were posted from Michigan to Arkansas. Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power.

"We obviously have a very dangerous situation on our hands, and it's just getting started," NWS deputy director Laura Furgione said during a conference call with reporters earlier Sunday.

There were at least three confirmed fatalities in Washington County, Ill., Jonathan Monken, director of Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said on Sunday night.

The Chicago Bears' home game against the Baltimore Ravens was temporarily halted due to severe weather in the Chicago area, and fans were evacuated from the stands at Soldier Field. Play resumed several hours later.

Washington, 145 miles southwest of Chicago, was hit particularly hard.

"I went over there immediately after the tornado, walking through the neighborhoods, and I couldn't even tell what street I was on," Washington Alderman Tyler Gee told The Associated Press.

[How to help Midwest tornado victims]

"I stepped outside, and I heard it coming," Michael Perdun, a resident there, told the AP. "My daughter was already in the basement, so I ran downstairs and grabbed her, crouched in the laundry room, and all of a sudden I could see daylight up the stairway and my house was gone. The whole neighborhood's gone. The wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house."

Amy Paul, a spokeswoman for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, told the Peoria Journal Star that the hospital was treating 37 tornado victims, including seven trauma patients.

Images posted on Twitter and Facebook showed tremendous devastation. Alexandra Sutter, a reporter for central Illinois' WMBD-TV, called the damage "horrific."

While tornadoes at this time of year are rare, forecasters had been warning residents in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes all weekend about the possibility of severe weather.

"The worst decision you could make today is to ignore a severe/tornado warning," the National Weather Service Northern Indiana tweeted. "These storms will be nasty."