A preliminary damage assessment by a National Weather Service survey team indicates the tornado was a F4, with peak wind gusts for 170-190 miles per hour.
The city's mayor says many families have lost everything. Six were killed statewide, with dozens more hurt, hundreds of homes damaged and thousands left without power.
Tazewell County, which includes Washington, is one of 7 counties declared disaster areas by Governor Quinn. A 51-year-old Washington man is one of those reported to be dead, and a nearby hospital tweeted that more than 50 people had been treated there. It's believe another 25 may have suffered injuries from the storm.
Police are asking people to stay out of the area while rescue officials continue to attempt to account for all residents and make sure no one is trapped. Looking at the damage, it's amazing so few were killed, although residents say they did have plenty of warning and time to seek shelter. Another factor may have been timing. Many were away at church about the time the storm him Sunday morning.