Illinois News

Washington, Illinois tornado 911 calls released

Monday, December 02, 2013

Newly-released 911 calls provide a firsthand account of the deadly tornado outbreak that killed two people in downstate Washington.

When the tornado hit Washington, Illinois all communication was lost with the dispatch center. So the southern portion of Tazewell County took the calls from terrified residents who were thankful they survived the storm.

"It's a tornado in Washington, Illinois, sound the alarm," said a 911 caller.

It was shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Residents flooded 911 operators in panic and fear after the most powerful November tornado ripped through Washington, Illinois.

"One house is destroyed by the tornado," said a 911 caller.

"My whole neighborhood is gone," said a 911 caller.

Residents scrambled for safety while those trapped in the rubble called for help.

"I'm in my basement, don't think I can get out and the roof is gone and there is water running through it," said a 911 caller.

"A tornado hit and everything is destroyed, I was about to take a bath and all I have on is a T-shirt," said a 911 caller.

The E-F4 tornado packed winds of up to nearly 200 miles per hour. After an hour, it passed but left massive destruction and devastation. Two people were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed.

One Peoria police officer was searching for his family.

"Our sister's house just got leveled in Washington, is there any way we can get in and help out," said the Peoria police officer.

"We are 7500-block, live wires still, one fire on the black asphalt fire has asphalt burning," said a 911 caller.

Emergency workers tried to search for survivors as soon as they were given the all clear.

"Three houses completely leveled, we went to see if everyone is ok," said a 911 caller.

Just to show you how many calls were made to 911 operators, the dispatch center has six consoles and all were in use at the height of the storm. Operators began getting emergency calls at the sight of the funnel clouds.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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