That official assessment comes from the National Weather Service, whose post-storm survey teams determined that the strongest tornadoes hit Washington, Ill., just outside Peoria. There, winds hit 190 miles per hour, a category EF-4 tornado (EF-5 is the strongest measure there is), leveling hundreds of homes across a stretch of 46 miles through Tazewell and Woodford counties.
Between 250 and 500 homes were destroyed in Washington, says Sara Parkman, public information officer for Tazewell County Emergency Management Agency. A more exact number is expected after assessment mapping is complete Wednesday afternoon. Between 60 and 80 homes in East Peoria and 100 homes in Pekin, Ill., are declared uninhabitable, Ms. Parkman says,and many more homes are damaged.
Only residents are allowed into the damaged areas to salvage whatever items they can. Those who are displaced are staying in an American Red Cross shelter set up at Crossroads Church in Washington; others are at nearby hotels or with family and friends.