At least one person dead after ‘powerful’ storms, tornadoes

Jayson Collett fills sandbags in Decatur, Ill. on Thursday. Strong storms rumbled through central Illinois this week, leading to widespread flooding. Susan Kantor

AP

Jayson Collett fills sandbags in Decatur, Ill. on Thursday. Strong storms rumbled through central Illinois this week, leading to widespread flooding. Susan Kantor

By Don Babwin

CHICAGO – Emergency workers in eastern Illinois found a person dead inside a car that was swept off the road Thursday by the rain-swollen Kaskaskia River.

The powerful thunderstorms on Wednesday night and Thursday morning also spawned at least two tornadoes and knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses, toppling trees and flooding roads and basements.

Divers, working from a boat because the current was too treacherous, recovered one body, despite a witness account that two people were in the car when it was swept off a rural road Thursday morning near Humboldt, about 40 miles south of Champaign, Charleston Fire Chief Kris Phipps told the Mattoon Journal-Gazette.

The victim’s name was not released, pending notification of family members, authorities said.

The tornadoes touched down Wednesday night in central Illinois, with wind gusts of up to 70 mph in northern Illinois.

One tornado touched down in open fields near Mackinaw, outside Peoria, causing no apparent damage; the second damaged some outbuildings when it touched down near Gridley, about 20 miles north of Bloomington, said Dan Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Associated Press Writer David Mercer in Champaign contributed to this report.