CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Update 11:40 a.m.: Crawford County officials are urging people to not come to the area where a tornado hit Friday night as Ameren is recharging powerlines and there is a danger of electrocution.
During a news conference held in Robinson, Illinois State Representative Adam Niemerg confirmed he had spoken with Governor JB Pritzkers office and learned that an emergency declaration will be issued this afternoon that will include Crawford County. That declaration will open up state resources to assist in the recovery efforts.
Crawford County Board Chair Bill Burke confirmed that Friday night at 9:10 p.m. the area was hit by a tornado. As a result of the damage caused the board voted to declare the a disaster area. Burke also confirmed that the airport is not able to be used even for emergency situations.
“At this time our airport is completely destroyed,” Burke said.
Burke re-iterated that as of 11 a.m. the area had 8 injured residents and 3 fatalities. EMA Director Brad Midgett said search and rescue crews have not found any more fatalities during their searches and that everyone in the areas affected has now been accounted for either through direct contact or through family members.
Residents are being asked to conserve water due to power outages affecting the water system.
Midgett said representatives from the National Weather Service would be in the area assessing damage and determining the size of the tornado that came through.
Sheriff Bill Rutan credited first responders and search teams for the work that has been done throughout the overnight hours and into Saturday morning.
“We have houses that are totally destroyed, we have emergency crews digging people out of their basements because their houses collapsed on top of them. But luckily they had that safe space to go to,” Rutan said. “I express my sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in this case. I can’t imagine what they are going through, but we need to come together as a community. Which we always do.”
Sheriff Rutan, Director Midgett, and Chairman Burke all pleaded with the public and potential volunteers to not come to the area at this time.
“Want to emphasize that we don’t want a lot of people here. It’s not safe yet. We have a lot of damage and there is still the possibility of electrocution because the power is coming back on,” Rutan said. “People can hook up generators in their houses which can back-feed through powerlines and cause unforeseen issues. So we want to keep people away from the area as much as possible until we can get the power grid to a safe state again.”
Those wishing to make monetary donations can do so through the Crawford County Treasurer’s Office. While donations of essential items can be made at Highland Church of Christ in Robinson. The church will be accepting donations from noon to 4 p.m. (CDT) Saturday.
Chairman Burke said folks who wish to volunteer should keep an eye on the Crawford County EMA Facebook page, as officials will post instructions on how and when to volunteer help at that location.
Update: Officials with the Crawford County Board are requesting the Illinois Governor declare a disaster area as a result of the severe weather that impacted the area Friday night.
Original: Three people died and another three were flown to area hospitals following severe weather that swept through Crawford County Friday night.
Crawford County EMA Director Brad Midgett confirmed the deaths, but no identification has been released at this time.
In addition to the three dead, at least three others were flown by helicopter to area hospitals for treatment of injuries sustained in the storm. Update: As of 10:30 a.m. WTWO’s Will Price has learned that there are at least 8 people who have been injured in relation to this severe weather incident. A county official also has confirmed that the Crawford County Airport has been so severely damaged as to make it unusable.
Midgett said crews continue to search the area with crews from Clark, Lawrence, and Edgar counties assisting.
Midgett asks members of the public who wish to volunteer and assist in the efforts to stay away from the area for now as crews are dealing with a lot of dangerous situations including downed power lines. The public is asked to avoid the areas between 700N, 900N, and 850E to Route 1.
Route 1 is currently closed south of Route 33, while Route 33 is closed near Palestine. These closures are due to debris from the storm including downed trees and powerlines.
“Be smart, if there are powerlines across the road, do NOT drive across them,” Midgett said.
This is a developing story, follow MyWabashValley.com for updates as they become available.