Last Updated Apr 10, 2015 9:23 AM EDT
Rescue crews combed through the shattered northern Illinois town of Fairdale, looking for survivors after a huge tornado killed a 67-year-old woman and injured at least eleven other people just before nightfall on Thursday.
The victim was identified Friday morning by authorities as Geradine M. Schultz. DeKalb County coroner Dennis Miller said family members removed her from her destroyed residence.
Emergency crews resumed searching homes and other structures to make sure nobody is trapped in the rubble.
"It's the worst thing I've seen," said Dekalb County Sheriff Roger Scott. "It's obviously distressing and our hearts go out to the families."
Kirkland Community Fire District Chief Chad Connell said Friday morning that 71 structures had been searched. Authorities said "several" people were unaccounted for.
"It's painstaking to do what were doing," Connell said. "We heavily searched all of these structures last night and then we're going to go back, going to get into the very tedious part of it."
One eyewitness said she's never seen a twister so big, that stayed on the ground so long, reports CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz.
Diaz said there's almost nothing left of Fairdale, population 200.
The funnel, estimated at a half-mile wide, cut a clear path through the entire region, some 100 miles west of Chicago.
Sirens filled the air as the tornado approached, darkening the sky and closing in on homes.
It left behind 50 miles of devastation, leveling homes, overturning semis, and burying cars.
Rescue Branch Commander Pete Polarek told reporters, "A lot of lightweight houses didn't stand up to the high winds."
Grubsteakers restaurant in Rochelle is now unrecognizable. Twelve people were huddled in the basement when the twister made contact. Rescue crews worked for 90 minutes to pull them to safety.
Raymond Kramer said, "When it hit, we knew it hit. We didn't know how bad."
Crews went house-to-house.
Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Matthew Knott said, "Everything was marked and searched and then ... re-checked by another crew to make sure nobody was in there."
Volunteers at shelter at the Kirkland Fire Department distributed food and clothing to hundreds.
"We're using the station for the unfortunate that lost everything," said Kirkland Fire Chief Chad Connell. "It's times like now that we really rally around communities."
Fifteen fire departments, along with the Red Cross and Salvation Army, are helping with the recovery effort in Fairdale. There was no word early Friday on when it will be safe for those who have been displaced to return home.