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Rauner visits storm-battered Southern Illinois

  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner looks over damage from this week's storms in Elkville with (left) State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro; and Carla Bigham, township supervisor for Elk Township.

    Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner looks over damage from this week's storms in Elkville with (left) State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro; and Carla Bigham, township supervisor for Elk Township.
    Photo by Geoffrey Ritter

 
By Geoffrey Ritter
gritter@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 3/2/2017 8:45 PM

The state will work with those displaced by this week's devastating storms and help make sure insurance companies promptly pay for covered damages, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday.
The governor made that promise after touring an area of Elkville that was hard hit during the Tuesday night storms. After walking through streets still choked with debris and looking in on the remains of decimated homes, Rauner said he was amazed no one had been killed in the Jackson County town.
"We're very fortunate," Rauner said. "We have to count our blessings."
Rauner thanked first responders and Red Cross volunteers for their efforts, adding that the state will advocate for those left homeless by the storm.
"At this point we are trying to make sure that all of the insurance companies are being responsive to those who are insured on a timely basis, that folks get their checks and get supported," Rauner said. "For those folks that don't have a place to stay with family and friends, we're helping them get food and clothing and shelter."
Appearing with Rauner were State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo; State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro; and Leo Schmitz, director of the Illinois State Police. Staff with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency talked with residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
Schmitz said that when such storms hit, lots of documents and personal papers are scattered by high winds. He said authorities will work with residents to learn how to prevent being victimized through identity theft.
"We're going to be letting people know how to deal with that," Schmitz said.
The storms that roared across southern Illinois Tuesday night cut a swath across the entire region, inflicting the most damage in northern Jackson County, western Franklin County and White County.
In Missouri, one person was killed and eight to 10 homes near the town of Perryville were badly damaged. In White County, Ill., an apparent tornado near the town of Crossville killed a 71-year-old man and injured his wife. The White County coroner's office says Thomas McCord had sought shelter in an outbuilding near his home before being killed by the storm.
Rauner's visit to southern Illinois followed a tour on Wednesday of storm damage in central Illinois including Ottawa, where an uprooted tree killed a 76-year-old man and his son-in-law. Rauner said Thursday that 16 tornadoes hit the state Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency reported that 46 residences had sustained significant damage, with 12 being total losses. A number of other structures also sustained serious damage, including the Powerade baseball complex in Elkville. Four Jackson County residents were treated for minor injuries resulting from flying debris.
Ryan Buckingham, director of Emergency Management in Franklin County, said there were a total of three homes between Mulkeytown and Royalton that were "virtually destroyed."