Madison-based American Family Insurance expects to receive more than 2,100 claims totaling more than $30 million in damages from the severe storms and tornadoes that ripped through five Midwestern states Sunday, killing six people in Illinois and injuring dozens in the region. The storms also left a long trail of material destruction, ranging from ripped-off roofs and broken windows to upended cars, punctured gas lines and rows of flattened homes in rural communities.
As of Wednesday, the insurer had tallied 1,346 received claims from insured households in southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.
Losses were almost entirely residential, staff said.
“We’ve got the whole spectrum of claims, from minor wind damage to homes destroyed that were directly in the path of the tornadoes,” American Family spokesman Steve Witmer said Wednesday afternoon, in a phone interview from a catastrophe command post set up to direct efforts near Peoria, Ill.
“It’s starting to rain here, which people were dreading,” Witmer added. “Some people have made the temporary repairs to stop rainwater from seeping in, but not everyone. Rain just slows things down.”
The storms Sunday ranged heaviest throughout central and northeastern Illinois, from Peoria to near Chicago, from which 575 claims had already been received by American Family Wednesday. About 1,000 Illinois claims were expected in total, including around 50 homes that were likely to be deemed total losses.
Many of the destroyed Illinois homes were in and around Washington, a rural community of about 16,000 residents just east of Peoria, across the Illinois River. On Tuesday, Witmer toured that area.
“You walk down a street, and it’s by and large gone,” he said, recalling his thoughts Tuesday. “You come across many, many homes in a row that were leveled by the storm. It was stunning.”
“Many of us were taken aback that a storm like that could happen, in November, in Illinois,” Witmer added. “A storm like this hasn’t hit here since the 1880s.”
American Family sent about 40 staffers to help local adjusters handle claims in central Illinois, Witmer said, with another 40 working elsewhere in the state and 20 more helping out in Indiana.