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Harrisburg Il Tornado

March 1, 2012 by staff 

Harrisburg Il Tornado, Weary residents may get some good news Thursday as the monster storm system that already battered many Midwestern states and caused 12 deaths is expected to weaken.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center downgraded its outlook for severe weather from moderate to slight over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. It said there was only a 5% probability of tornadoes through Thursday morning.

The death toll from the enormous storm system that plowed through the Midwest and spawned more tornadoes as it moved east was at 12 late Wednesday, authorities said.

Hardest hit was Harrisburg, Illinois, a town that was thrashed by a pre-dawn EF4 killer tornado that packed 170 mph winds. Six people were killed in the southern Illinois city, many were injured or left with harrowing stories like Justin Hicks

“When we woke up half the roof was coming off the house,” said Hicks. “We managed to get the small children in the closet and about the time the small children were in the closet my wife and I noticed the walls separating from the house.”

Hicks’ home was destroyed but he says it could have been much worse.

“We’re very lucky to be alive” he said. ” It happened so fast. I woke up to a chaos and I’m sure a lot of people woke up to chaos. I wasn’t expecting it to be that bad.”

The dead included four women and two men. The tornado had a preliminary rating of EF4, the second most powerful on the rating scale, according to the National Weather Service.

The twister appeared to have been on the ground for several miles, said Mayor Eric Gregg. The path of destruction was about three or four football fields wide, he said.

The scene in the southern part of Harrisburg, was one of debris and collapsed houses. Commercial and residential buildings were crushed. A tractor-trailer could be seen laying on its side, off the highway.

“When the sirens were going on this morning … it was eerily quiet. I had a gut feeling something was wrong,” Gregg told reporters.

“We will rebuild this city. This will make us stronger,” Gregg said.

There were no reports Wednesday evening of anyone missing, the mayor said.

Harrisburg resident Caleb Cattivera said he rushed to his workplace early Wednesday only to find it gone. “I know a lot of people who live back near there.”

Resident Les Winkeler said, “You just hoped your house didn’t come down around you.”

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