Update: While initial reports labeled the storm as a tornado, it is now known that the storm was a derecho, a rare type of long-lived wind storm.
Severe weather pummeled the historic town of Nauvoo, Illinois, Thursday, leading to significant damage in the area, including to the Nauvoo Pageant for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Flooding and downed trees have caused a massive power outage as well as damage to homes and cars. According to one email sent a missionary serving in the area, the entire lighting and sound booth equipment, as well as the tents and structures set up for a county fair that precedes the Nauvoo Pageant, were destroyed.
A group of Latter-day Saint youth were on a pioneer trek in the area and needed to shelter as the storm descended. One of the leaders on the trek posted the following video:
Jeni Brown, whose daughter was there, wrote online that her daughter called her crying. The group was able to shelter in a barn. She wrote, “I am truly giving thanks and praising my Heavenly Father for all the youth and leaders safety and the ministering angels I know our Heavenly Father sent to protect them. No one was hurt and everyone is accounted for… last I heard they don’t have power but where they are staying held strong and has no damage so they have shelter and food and of course because these youth are so resilient they immediately went to work helping others and helping clean up what they could.”
Another video shows these efforts:
Greg Davies, a pageant missionary, shared other videos, including a tour of the damage around the Nauvoo Temple and other areas related the historic sites and pageant.
Though many structures were damaged, no major injuries have been reported and performing missionaries even went on with an evening show without any power.
Performing missionaries also helped comfort those forced to shelter in place when visitors were trapped in basements for hours, as this video depicts.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.