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Washingon, IL — A teddy bear amidst the devastated property, resulting from the Nov. 17 tornado outbreak in the Midwest. Photo by Nicholas Stewart.
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Chris Lovingood, a broadcasting major at WIU, while covering the tornado disaster aftermath Nov. 18 in Washington, IL.
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WIU Media Students Document Tornado Aftermath in Washington, IL

November 22, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – A day after tornadoes tore through the western Illinois region, students at Western Illinois University were on hand to document the recovery efforts.

Four students working for the student-produced television newscast, NEWS3, drove together to Washington (IL) early Monday morning in an effort to survey the damage and talk to officials about the recovery efforts. Chris Lovingood, senior broadcasting major; Nicholas Stewart, junior meteorology major; Dana Zimmer, senior broadcasting and meteorology major; and Mario Calero, freshman broadcasting major, covered Governor Pat Quinn's news conference on Monday, surrounded by major news outlets.

In addition, Stewart, the weather anchor for NEWS3, who also serves as the photo editor for the Western Courier (WIU's student-run newspaper), documented the devastation with photos, which can be viewed on the Courier's Facebook page at

News crews were provided with escorts, who took them through the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Lovingood reported on the damage to the town as Calero documented the sites.

"Being out there was a learning experience," Lovingood said. "Seeing the images and footage online is much different than being there in person. The image of a teddy bear laying near a fallen tree will forever be burned in my mind."

Stewart, who has covered natural disasters and their aftermath in his student career, said the scenes he encountered in Washington were nothing like he has witnessed previously.

"I traveled along the Illinois River to cover the historic flooding that inundated many small towns and flooded downtown Peoria. I also go on storm-spotting trips to see severe weather, including tornadoes, firsthand, so I've seen tornadoes and the destruction they produce. But nothing I've seen before compared to the devastation there," he added.

Along with Stewart, Zimmer serves as a weather anchor on the newscast. Stewart recapped the weather conditions leading up to the devastating storm on Tuesday's NEWS3 Live at Four.

View Lovingood's report at The Western Courier also published stories this past week about the disaster, including, "Tornado turns town to tragedy."

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