Hundreds of homes leveled by tornado

By Alyssa Donovan

November 17, 2013 Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 1:25 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Il.-- Hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the town of Washington.

People spent the day rummaging through debris trying to salvage any personal belongings.

Officials say the best way to help right now is to stay away from the area.

There's a lot of power lines down a lot of power lines that could still be alive. There's gas leaks all over the place. So it is still a very dangerous situation," said Illinois State Trooper Dustin Pierce.

"I've been doing this for 13 years. You put a disaster plan together and it's pages and pages of things and you hope and pray you never have to use it. It's remarkable the people that have shown up, doctors, police and fire crews and EMT's. I just want to tell our people to be resilient," said Gary Manier, Mayor of Washington.

Washington schools are closed Monday and officials are asking that people conserve water. The storm caused several water main breaks in the area.

A boil order has been established for Washington until further notice.