Governor JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation after a dozen tornadoes ripped through Illinois late Friday, killing a man after a roof collapsed at a packed concert venue in Belvidere, outside Rockford, and killing three others in lower Crawford County.
Pritzker signed a proclamation late Saturday, allowing states to send aid to DuPage, Boone, Crawford, Marion, and Sangamon counties.
“The devastating storm that hit our state last night has devastated communities and resulted in grievous injuries and loss of life,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Severe weather was part of a system that ripped through the South and Midwest, killing at least 27 people across Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.
Pritzker visited the devastation in the Belvidere on Sunday, where an EF-1 tornado hit with winds as high as 100 mph, collapsing the roof of the Apollo Theater as more than 200 people attended a heavy metal concert.
A concertgoer died in the rubble. He was identified as Frederick Forest Livingston Jr., 50.
Livingston stood by his son as the roof came crashing down on him.
“I couldn't save him,” said his son, Alex Livingston ABC7-Chicago. “It happened so fast.”
Forty-eight people were taken to hospital, Pritzker said. About half had been discharged by Saturday afternoon, but Pritzker said five people were still in critical condition.
“I am so grateful to the residents here at the Belvidere and to the concertgoers and first responders who risked their lives Friday night to pull people out of the rubble and rubble,” Pritzker said Sunday.
“Life was saved because of the quick work of the people who live here and work here.”
Meteorologists have confirmed 12 tornadoes to hit northern Illinois and Indiana on Friday. The closest confirmed tornado near Chicago is EF-1 that swept from Lombard to Addison, according to the National Weather Service.
In Crawford County, three people were killed and eight injured when a tornado hit near New Hebron, causing several roofs to collapse, authorities said.
It may take another two to three days to assess the statewide damage, Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau told reporters Sunday.
IEMA said the tornado also caused damage in several other cities across the state:
- In Boone and Crawford County, about 30 buildings were damaged, including at Robinson Airport.
- In Sangamon County, the tornado damaged several buildings in Sherman, Riverton and Dawson.
- In Marion County, about a dozen homes and businesses were damaged. In Addison in DuPage County, several buildings were damaged.
The National Weather Service said it would survey the destruction in the coming days to determine whether the tornado also hit Batavia, Plainfield, Plano, Montgomery, Frankfort and Park Forest.