Cleanup underway after tornado kills two in New Minden

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NEW MINDEN, IL (KTVI)-- Governor Pat Quinn finished a tour oftornado ravaged Illinois, Monday night, in the town of New Minden.  There, where an elderly couple was killed by a twister, he tried to spend a message of hope.  But fire on the horizon was indicative that hope is going to be tough to come by for some.

As the sun set, a small home on Highway 177 sent smoke pouring into the sky.  It was completely engulfed in flames.  The owner didn’t want to identify himself or appear on camera, but he said he had nothing left to save.  He had salvaged a little, and torched the rest.  Neighbors watched quietly with him as the home burned to the ground.

“Now I guess the insurance is calling them total losses and their burning them,” his neighbor, Jim Preston said as he watched the flames about a quarter mile away.  “Just hard to imagine that that could happen.”

It’s all the result of the EF-4 tornado that blasted through here Sunday.  Twelve homes were destroyed, which may not sound widespread until you consider only 250 people live in the town.

It was the final stop on Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s statewide tour of the devastation that resulted from the unusual November tornado outbreak.  We asked Quinn about the flames, and the desperation they resulted from.  He said he’d seen plenty of desperation Monday.

“A lot of folks who have lost their number one investment in life, their house, their property, their possessions scattered across the countrysidebut I would say to all of them, don’t give up hope.”

He also delivered the message that residents with damage need to document it well.  Such documentation will eventually be used to develop a damage total which will be part of the state’s effort to get federal disaster aid.  Those dollars from Washington could be vital for cash-strapped Illinois.

But much of the damage was already going up in flames.  Not far from the burning home, Bill Funke had already cleaned up branches, limbs, a wrecked shed, and a destroyed barn.  All were in piles, on fire as we spoke to him.  He said he and his neighbors were just doing what they could to clean up the mess.

“We’ve just been picking up debris from here to a quarter mile away.  Just helping pick it up and move on,” he said.

A lot of help has been delivered here.  Strangers from nearby towns simply showed up Tuesday to lend a hand.

It was helpful to people like Jim Preston.  He cowered in his basement as the twister destroyed his house, Sunday.  Monday was spent trying to figure out how to begin picking up the pieces of his life.

“Where do you start?  It’s like what do you do first?  You just kind of push on and try to find a way to deal with it,” he said as he prepared to leave for the night.   He’s staying in a motel for now.  After that, he’s not sure where he’ll be headed.

NEW MINDEN, IL (KTVI)-- Cleanup is underway in New Minden, Illinois a small community about an hour southeast of St. Louis.

An elderly brother and sister were killed there Sunday when an EF-4 tornado touched down.

Several homes were destroyed.

St. John's Lutheran Church and its cemetery were also damaged in the storm.

Volunteers worked all day removing truckloads of debris.

The Red Cross was also on hand supplying food and water.

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