Complete devastation greets residents after tornado

The cleanup is just getting underway in Washington Illinois where an EF-4 tornado swept through the Central Illinois town on Sunday.

It's a scene not too many people will actually ever experience, complete devastation of your neighborhood. But it's something that has become a reality for hundreds of people in Washington Illinois.

One of the people who rode out the tornado in her families basement was a woman named Shelly. She spoke with me, but didn't want to use her last name.

"What's interesting is we knew the tornado hit, I don't think I realized that our top floor was gone," Shelly said.

There wasn't any vehicle traffic allowed into the area. But those who lived in the subdivisions that were in the path of the tornado managed to walk to what was left of their homes. Trying to salvage anything they could find.

"But we were able to lift the kids up to safety and then fortunately we've got great neighbors," Shelly said.

Besides the residents trying to recover, Ameren Illinois was also trying to recover and begin the process of restoring power. More than 13 hundred Ameren employees and contractors were on the ground in the Washington area trying to get service restored to residents

"The biggest challenge is just the field checking, just trying to find out who's without power, which homes are actually destroyed, which homes need to be turned back on, which ones aren't standing that we need to move on and try to get people who do have homes that are left standing," Stacey Shangraw, a spokesperson with Ameren Illinois said.

The National Weather Service says the tornado had winds of between 170 and 190 miles an hour. And the people who rode out the storm in the devastated subdivision say they had at least 10 minutes of advanced warning of the approaching storm because of the city wide siren warning system.