Washington Mayor: "Be resilient"

By Chad Weber

November 17, 2013 Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 1:10 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- The worst came true for the City of Washington.

Illinois State Police confirmed that at least one person died there as a result of a tornado Sunday.

Emergency crews continued to search homes one at a time, hoping everyone else was okay.

"I've never seen so much devastation," said Washington Mayor Gary Minier. "Looks like a war zone."

Minier was at church when the tornado hit.

Shortly after 11:00 AM Sunday, what the weather channel is estimating as an E-F three tornado, ripped through the city of Washington, flattening neighborhoods and leaving the entire area without power.

"You know I didn't personally witness Elmwood, but the pictures from that... remind me a lot of that," said Mayor Minier. "Subdivisions that, I walked one and probably four streets are gone. Had somebody ask what street I was on and I couldn't tell them, and I lived a block from where I thought I was."

As of Sunday night, one death had been confirmed, and the numbers on injuries were in the double digits.

State police said the immediate concern was taking care of those injured and displaced.

"There's tons and tons of people trying to come here," said State Trooper Dustin Pierce. "Everyone wants to help and we understand that but we have the emergency crews here. Everybody has a disaster response plan that we're following right now."

Police set a curfew blocking travel into the city.

They are also asking residents to conserve water due to a large number of water breaks.

"All the entrances around Washington are closed," said Pierce. "Nobody's going to be going back in unless they belong here and it's going to remain that way for quite some time"

Schools have been canceled throughout Washington Monday and the National Guard arrived to ensure safety.

"I just want to tell people to be resilient, you know we can rebuild," said Minier.

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