Tornado ravages Richton Park, downstate

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Illinois residents spent the beginning of the week cleaning up after a weekend of tornadoes and floods, even as new storms rolling across the state threatened to add to the trouble. In south suburban Richton Park, three businesses damaged by a tornado Sat

Several houses were also damaged, though most less severely. It was one of seven tornadoes were reported around the state Friday and Saturday, most on the outskirts of greater Chicago, the National Weather Service said. Stockstell said he’s thankful it wasn’t worse. "Richton Park was fortunate," he said. "There were no lives lost, there were no major injuries." Officials in several areas hit by tornadoes were still tallying the damage from the storms.

In Will County, where the Richton Park tornado first touched down, 33 homes and business were damaged and seven were tagged as unsafe for occupancy, said Lynn Behringer, the county’s emergency management spokeswoman. But there was progress: Interstate 57 west and south of the town was open in both directions Monday.

The tornado knocked down seven high-voltage lines, leaving the freeway closed late Saturday and all-day Sunday. And only a handful customers were left without power in the Chicago area after as many as 26,000 customers were in the dark Saturday, according to ComEd. Downstate, high water was just beginning to recede from rural roads and farm fields Monday, following 5 to just over 9 inches that fell in central and parts of southern Illinois. As much as 3 inches of rain also fell over much of northern Illinois over the weekend.

Some areas saw more rain on Monday. And near Opdyke, in far southern Illinois, hail as big as grapefruit fell Monday afternoon, but didn’t cause any serious damage, NWS meteorologist Robin Smith said. The town is about 90 miles southwest of St. Louis.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources closed the Fox River to boating between Stratton and Montgomery dams — a roughly 10-mile stretch runs from McHenry south to Algonquin — because high water was carrying debris and submerged objects such as boat docks and piers. "There’s a lot of hazards that normally aren’t there," said Arlan Juhl of the agency’s water resources division. (AP)

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