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BLOOMINGTON — Cleanup and damage assessment continued Wednesday after Tuesday’s violent storms that spawned at least 24 tornadoes across Illinois and reportedly killed four people in the Midwest, including two Ottawa men.

The National Weather Service said late Wednesday the tornado that roared through Ottawa and the small village of Naplate packed winds up to 155 mph, making it an EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. 

Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM reported late Wednesday night that a second Ottawa man has died of injuries suffered when a tree fell on him and another man. 

Authorities previously confirmed that an uprooted tree killed Wayne Tuntland, 76. WBBM reported that DJ Johnson, 31, was crushed by the same tree while pushing a third man to safety.

OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa reported treating 16 patients after the storm that damaged dozens of structures in Ottawa and neighboring Naplate, including the LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa.

“The types of injuries we have received include fractures and injuries to the head, knee, and arm areas,” said hospital spokeswoman Libby Allison in an email. “Several injuries were the result of falling tree limbs and the inability of drivers to see as they tried to travel home.”

Two patients were transferred to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where one was listed in critical condition and the other in good condition. It was unknown late Wednesday if Johnson was one of these patients.

One patient was admitted overnight at the Ottawa hospital and then released Wednesday. The others, including two patients who came to the emergency room on Wednesday, were treated and released.

About a quarter of the roughly 200 homes in Naplate were damaged, Fire Chief John Nevins said.

Debbie Loughridge, 61, and her son were inside their Naplate home, riding out the storm in the bathtub. Firefighters rescued them after the roof was torn off.

"All I heard was the wind and the breaking glass. Like an explosion of glass," Loughridge said.

Representatives from the McLean County Emergency Management Agency were ready to respond when the tornadoes hit both to the north and south of McLean County about 5 p.m. Tuesday, said Director Bob Clark.

“We were watching everything and were ready for deployment if necessary, but we never got the call,” he said. “It was an interesting situation. There were issues to the north and to the south, but we also had to keep in mind that another wave was going to arrive a few hours later. But, fortunately, we weren’t needed.”

The weather service has confirmed 24 tornadoes in Illinois from Tuesday's storms, including one that touched down about 5:30 p.m. in Washburn in Woodford County but left no injuries.

NWS Storm Prediction Center meteorologist Patrick Marsh said crews are still determining how many twisters touched down across Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. 

“We knew McLean County was a moderate risk for severe weather, but it was just good luck that the system went to the north and south,” said weather service meteorologist Kirk Huettl. “There was some hail at about 11 p.m. along with some strong winds, but no major damage reported.”

Marsh said a strong storm system moved from the Mountain West and collided with warm and humid air in the Midwest, which has enjoyed an unusually warm winter and where temperatures Tuesday were well into the 70s in many places.

"That's why we saw storms more representative of late March and April," Marsh said. "The atmosphere doesn't care what the calendar says."

In southern Illinois, an apparent tornado near the town of Crossville near the Wabash River killed a 71-year-old man and injured his wife, White County Coroner Chris Marsh said.

In Missouri, a twister blew several vehicles off of Interstate 55 near Perryville, 65 miles southeast of St. Louis. A 24-year-old man from Perryville was thrown from one of the vehicles and died, Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Juston Wheetley said. The wind, which damaged 110 homes there and left 12 people injured, was so strong that it lifted crumpled cars from a nearby salvage yard and tossed them along the highway.

American Red Cross volunteers were in several counties, including LaSalle, Marshall and Woodford counties, to work with victims and emergency personnel.

Ameren Illinois reported about 7 p.m. Wednesday that it had completed restoring power to 43,000 customers, mostly in the Ottawa and Carbondale areas.

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow

Paul Swiech, Roger Miller, The Associated Press and Chicago Tribune (TNS) contributed to this report.


Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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