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Twister Kills 2, Injures 20; Governor Bruce Rauner Declares DeKalb, Ogle State Disaster Areas

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After touring the damage left by powerful a tornado that killed two people and injured nearly two dozen others, Gov. Bruce Rauner declared two counties disaster areas on Friday.

"Out thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected," Rauner said a news conference in the town of Rochelle on Friday. "This was a devastating storm."

The National Weather Service confirmed a long-track tornado touched down during a series of powerful storms Thursday evening. It hit hard in Rochelle, a city of 9,500 people about 25 miles south of Rockford; and in Fairdale, a town of about 200 people, less than 20 miles southeast of Rockford. Officials were out in the field on Friday to determine if there were more tornadoes.

The tornado was classified on Friday as an EF-4, with 200 mile per hour winds and spanning about a half-mile. The weather service said the twister was on the ground for about 40 miles.

The state disaster declaration for Ogle and DeKalb counties makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms.

One of the dead has been identified as 67-year-old Geraldine Schultz, who was found inside her home. The second victim was identified as 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa, who was missing after the tornado hit, and later found dead in her home during a second search of the town Friday morning.


At a news conference on Friday, Rauner said six of the 20 injured remained in the hospital. In Rochelle, officials said 49 homes sustained significant damage. In Fairdale, that number was closer to 70.

All state roads, with the exception of a two-mile portion of Illinois 72 just north of Fairdale, are now open. The state has started damage assessment flights around the hardest hit areas, Rauner said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Friday that he's concerned the federal government might not be able to provide much disaster relief for the victims.

Durbin said he and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk want to see what federal assistance might be needed in Fairdale, Rochelle, and other parts of northern Illinois that were damaged by the storms.

However, he said past experience suggests the threshold for federal disaster relief is very high for Illinois communities, WBBM Newsradio's Craig Dellimore reports.

"I've joined with Senator Kirk in a bipartisan effort to change the formula. The simple fact of the matter is that the state of Illinois, with a large population center right here in Chicago, does not qualify for federal disaster assistance that many more rural states qualify for," he said.


Kirk joined Rauner to tour the damage in Rochelle, and said he and Durbin would do everything they can to make sure the governor has whatever the state needs.

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