Jun 24, 2015 12:50 AM

Powerful rainstorms hit East Coast; Midwest states clean up

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Severe weather that pounded the Midwest and spawned tornadoes shifted Tuesday to the East Coast, where tornado warnings were issued in several states and rainstorms were strong enough to stop train service.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for much of southern New England, and strong thunderstorms in Connecticut caused widespread power outages. Storms moving into Philadelphia on Tuesday evening blackened the sky and temporarily halted commuter trains beginning at rush hour. Amtrak suspended its Northeast Corridor and Keystone services from Washington through Philadelphia and on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but restored service about two hours later.

The heat also was a problem. Several people were treated for heat-related issues at a high school graduation in southern New Jersey, where temperatures were in the high 80s.

Strong storms that swept across northern Illinois spawned at least nine tornadoes, severely damaged homes and forced first responders to pull survivors from basements, officials said Tuesday.

At least five tornadoes also hit parts of Michigan late Monday into early Tuesday, while possible tornadoes went through northern Indiana and Iowa. The storms knocked out power to thousands of people, but by Tuesday morning the skies had cleared and the rain had moved east.

Particularly hard hit on Monday night was a private camping resort in Sublette, Illinois, where five people were hurt and one was hospitalized with serious injuries. The National Weather Service confirmed it was a tornado with winds between 111 mph and 135 mph.

Fire Chief Kevin Schultz said damage was worse than anticipated, spread across about 700 acres of the Woodhaven Association resort.

"At this point in time, the best words to describe it is decimated," Schultz said Tuesday morning. "There are trailers that are in trees. There are trailers that are upside down. ... It is the worst thing I've ever seen."

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner deployed a search-and-rescue team to assist and said he was concerned out-of-towners were hurt or trapped and wouldn't be reported missing.

About 70 miles southeast of the camping resort, an EF-3 tornado with peak winds of 160 mph raked Coal City and damaged several subdivisions. Five people in the city of about 5,000 residents suffered minor injuries.

Debra Burla said she and her husband sheltered in an underground crawlspace on their 100-year-old farm but the wind nearly sucked her out of it.

"I kept crawling to the middle (of the crawlspace) ... because I was sitting right by the opening of it," said Burla, whose farm was heavily damaged.

Her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were temporarily stuck in their own crawlspace after their garage collapsed on top of it.

In Michigan, a series of severe thunderstorms damaged homes and caused power outages. More than 50 homes as well as church and other buildings were damaged by a tornado Monday in Portland, 25 miles northwest of Lansing. The National Weather Service said a tornado hit early Tuesday near Manchester, southwest of Ann Arbor.

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Associated Press writers Jason Keyser and Caryn Rousseau contributed to this report.

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