TODAY   |  November 20, 2013

Difficult cleanup ahead for tornado victims

As the scale of the destruction caused by at least 26 twisters that struck the Midwest over the weekend becomes clearer, the immensity of the challenge ahead for victims of the storms is becoming more apparent as well. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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>> damage from tornadoes across the midwest is becoming more clear. at least 26 twisters touched down in indiana and 11 hit illinois . authorities in washington, illinois finally allowed homeowners back into some of the hardest hit neighborhoods. nbc's kate snow was there.

>> reporter: for too many here it's about gathering up what little they have left.

>> oh my god.

>> reporter: authorities say the f-4 tornado that tore through here sunday damaged or destroyed at least 1,000 homes.

>> we just had a big tornado come through, wiped out the whole neighborhood.

>> reporter: carla used all her strength to pull her bathroom door closed.

>> i just put the pillows over my head and i had my back there. when i walked out it was light.

>> because there's no roof.

>> reporter: on tuesday she went home for the first time.

>> that's kyle when he was a baby, my son. can't you just kiss that little face .

>> reporter: her son is an army sergeant now stationed in georgia. her daughter, a military wife in north carolina . her family far away and until they can get here she is relying on strangers.

>> this is home for now.

>> reporter: sleeping at a red cross shelter.

>> everybody here has just -- i don't know, taken us in their arms.

>> reporter: carla was hoping she would find her grandmother's teacup in a cabinet. but as hard as it snchis.

>> i have a piece of it.

>> reporter: she'll start fresh.

>> this isn't survive but i did. this can be -- not replaced but memories made.

>> reporter: kate snow , nbc news, washington, illinois .