Jeff Rann lived just blocks from his parents in the southern Illinois city of Harrisburg, but he got a tragic firsthand view of the fickle violence a major tornado can bring.

Rann survived the twister that hit the 9,000-resident city before dawn Wednesday, only to find his father killed and his mother mortally wounded after the tornado leveled their duplex.

Authorities say it could have been much worse, given that much of the city was asleep when the tornado hit. But the mayor credits weather spotters with getting word out in time to sound severe weather sirens that roused many residents and sent the scrambling for safety.

Randy and Donna Rann were among six people killed in Harrisburg. The overnight storms killed 12 people in three states.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)