Saturday night, our town was hit by an EF-2 tornado. The tornado tore a path from one side of town to the other, leveling a trailer park, destroying trees, tearing off roofs, and leaving people homeless. We’re all very thankful that nobody was killed, and that the injuries were minimal.
I live a little over a block from the trailer park that was destroyed. My house received no damage, and other houses on my block only received minimal damage. There was very little debris in our yards- it doesn’t look like anything happened here, except for the blocked off roads and the ComEd trucks.
We spent all day Saturday at Dad’s house- they were buying a new refrigerator for us (which I was going to write about- but obviously, other things came first). We got the fridge home, went over to their house to get our food from their fridge, and came home. Not twenty minutes later, Dad is pounding on our door. There’s a tornado in Streator (20 miles away) and it’s heading our way. We grab the kids and our laptops, and head for Dad’s house in the pouring rain. He has a basement- we don’t. Sil calls us- she’s heading for our house. We redirect her to Dad’s, just in time for the 9 of us to get in Dad’s basement (sil, her son, her friend, Dad, dh, me, and our three boys). We’re down there, listening to Dad’s scanner, dh is attempting to check the weather on his laptop (we still have power at this point), and we’re watching the wind change direction outside.
Then- it gets quiet. Really quiet. Deadly quiet. There’s no rain. There’s no noise. We start hearing voices upstairs- the satellite that had been out is back on. It sounds hopeful. Maybe it’s over, and we can go back upstairs. The wind picks up. The power goes out- there is no light coming from outside. The wind picks up, Dad shuts the door, and then we hear it- and there really is no other way to describe that sound. It’s a freight train, heading for you at unbelievable speeds. It’s a vibration in your feet, the walls, the very air around you. It rumbles, and you don’t know where it’s coming from.
And then it passes. And you’re left with silence. Now- the waiting really begins. It doesn’t take long- a house is down on Linden street. There’s a train stalled on the tracks. Power lines down all over town. A trailer park, home to 35 families, is destroyed. 35 families, all homeless in a matter of seconds.
The rumors start as people start to emerge from their shelter. 4 dead. 6 dead. No, nobody is dead. Three serious injuries. One serious injury. We were hit by two tornadoes, back to back. The all clear siren sounds, and we panic- is it happening again? Can we come out? What should we do? Slowly, we emerged. Dh, sil and her friend went to see if they could help. The kids were keyed up- panicking. One by one, they fell asleep. Mom and Dad bought flashlights, four cases of pop, and ice. We knew that nothing would be open on Sunday- the entire town is without power.
The calls start coming in- are you ok? Have you heard from Bob?
The next morning- we go look. We witness. We are shocked by the destruction. We’re relieved to hear that friends and families are ok, amazed to see what they survived. We take pictures. We join a facebook group and share those pictures along with our thoughts and prayers.