- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - People who lost their homes when a tornado roared through their central Illinois town last week received help from a new neighbor: the top executive of a medical marijuana-growing company.

Delavan Mayor Liz Skinner said Sunday that Revolution Enterprises CEO Tim McGraw is paying for hotel rooms for residents displaced by Thursday night’s tornado.

More than 50 homes were damaged as the tornado, which reached wind speeds of 120 mph, tore a 1-mile path through the community of 1,700 residents. “Nine homes were declared uninhabitable,” Skinner said.

No one was killed in the twister, which also took down trees, garages and grave markers at a cemetery. The National Weather Service rated its strength as EF2, a significant tornado on a scale that goes from EF0 to EF5.

Families ousted by the tornado are appreciative of McGraw’s offer of rooms at a hotel in nearby Pekin.

“The alternative was cots set up at the American Legion Hall by Red Cross,” Skinner said.

She said residents are determined to help each other with the cleanup. “There’s a sense of normalcy with coming back to church on Sunday,” she said.

The marijuana company’s 75,000-square-foot facility in Delavan escaped damage, said company spokesman Bradley Vallerius. The tornado hit soon after the company started growing cannabis under lights inside its locked, environment-controlled facility.

Revolution Enterprises announced in a news release Friday that it expects to harvest and process medical marijuana as early as October.

The first medical marijuana company in Illinois to start growing was Ataraxia, which said July 13 that it had started cultivating marijuana at its facility in the southeastern Illinois city of Albion.

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