The notice weather forecasters gave Saturday that Sunday could bring severe weather to Illinois was not particularly helpful, says the police chief in the hardest-hit town. “They can give you a warning, but the weather changes so quickly here in Illinois,” says Don Volk, who has been leading the Washington, Ill. police department for four months. “You just never know when a front’s going to move through or move 20 miles to the other direction, so there wasn’t much to do until we knew for certain where it was going.”
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“We had very little warning,” agrees Tazewell County sheriff Bob Huston, “but I can tell you that the warning system that our local officials have put in place … was a godsend, and we did have adequate warning to take cover, and I believe most people did that.” Volk, from his home Sunday, could see debris flying. Huston said the tornado missed his home by about 500 feet. Both escaped damage, with the exception of a few of Huston’s shingles.