CREST HILL, Ill. (AP) _ A rusty toaster, a child's plastic sand bucket and some soggy clothes were just about all that an angry twister left behind when it came to call on Carol Levenston and her 4-year-old son.

While hundreds of other Illinois tornado victims last week stood in line to see their insurance agents, Levenston, whose second child is due any day, pecked through the pile of rubble she once called home.

''We had just really got started here,'' said Levenston, 30. ''We thought about (insurance) but we just never expected this to come about.''

The tornadoes killed 27 people and demolished more than 270 homes and 14 apartment buildings last Tuesday in the small towns of Plainfield and Crest Hill, some 30 miles southwest of Chicago. An additional 639 dwellings were damaged.

By week's end, many residents were meeting with insurance agents, calling building contractors and beginning to look to the future.

''We're totally covered,'' said Scott Ellerbrock of Plainfield.

Ellerbrock joked he is ''31 years old going on 80,'' after the storm left only two walls of his house intact. He said his insurance agent had already issued him a check and that, for his family, the worst was over.

''Take your best shot - I can take it,'' the Dow Chemical Co. worker said. ''I've been through hell and I made it.''

Ellerbrock plans to rebuild on the same site - this time a larger house for his wife and two young children.

Throughout the area, insurance agents scurried to meet demand left in the wake of the twisters.Many residents praised the quick response of their agents.

''They came out Wednesday morning - figured it was a total loss for me,'' said Richard Vogen as he carried a few chairs from his three-bedroom home.

Vogen said his agents issued him a check on the spot.

Two disaster relief centers were set up by the state and federal governments to assist some victims with loans and outright grants.

The newly appointed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Wallace Stickney, toured the disaster area Monday and visited the two centers. Stickney, who also flew over the devastation in a helicopter, praised the quick response of federal and state emergency workers.

''We may be able to beat the response by a couple of hours next time, but I think we've set a record here that's going to be hard to match in the future,'' Stickney said.

It is Stickney's first major disaster since taking over FEMA two weeks ago.

Ron Buddecke, a regional FEMA official, said Friday that the agency antifipates serving a lot of people with insufficent insurance or no insurance.

Many residents of the modest Crestlakes Apartment complex in Crest Hill, where at least nine of the fatalities occurred, said their losses had not been covered.

Paul Hendrix, 30, pulled ''a pillowcase full'' of clothes from his apartment Friday. Hendrix said his losses were compounded by looting on Wednesday and Thursday while he was working at an auto dealership.

''I couldn't even afford to take off,'' said Hendrix.

Even for the insured, the road was not easy. In Plainfield, an unidentified man wept as he pleaded over the phone with his insurance company.

''You can't call me,'' the man said. ''I have no phone. My home has been destroyed. I'm sorry. I'm upset.''