Days after a major tornado swept through the western outskirts of DuPage County, more storms were expected Thursday night. The village of Woodridge was particularly affected by tornado EF3 which sent residents to their basements on Sunday evening as trees were toppled and homes destroyed.
Now the community is picking up the pieces. For some, it will be a long road to recovery: more than 160 homes have sustained significant damage and around 30 have been lost entirely, according to Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham.
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âAfter the initial devastation and seeing all the destruction throughout the community, which was extremely heartbreaking, today I know it’s a new day,â Cunningham said. âAs you walk through Woodridge you still see debris, houses that have been demolished or half a house might be standing. But from Monday to today it’s incredible, the cleaning work, the power is restored to 100%.
Video: Watch our full interview with Mayor Cunningham.
On Monday morning, Jennifer Anteliz got up early to assess the storm damage. Her home was fine, but she noticed drywall in her front yard.
“I’m like ‘Where did the drywall come from? Â»Said AntÃ©liz. âSo I walk a block and a half and thenâ¦ It was a lot of neighbors’ houses. It was just everyone. It was devastating. “
Anteliz, who volunteers in her parish, Saint Scholasticus, is a person who describes himself. Following the storm, she took it upon herself to organize food donations in the gymnasium of the Sainte-Scholastique school, putting meals in bags for all those who need them.
The church had a lot of volunteers because it was also damaged considerably – the rectory and the garage were destroyed, except for two brick walls. There was also a bit of damage to the roof.
Beth Cartner, director of religious education at the church, said emotional recovery from the tornado may take longer than physical healing.
âWe’re fine. Physically we’re fine,” Carter said. “The emotional part will come as the buildings and physical things have to recover, but right now I’m fine. That’s one thing. that we have to remember is that there is going to be a residue. That is why I want to tell people that the doors of our church are open now for mass, so this is a place where you can start. to heal.
Since the tornado, residents say the community has come together. This includes about 35 American Red Cross volunteers who were called in – some of them in the middle of the night on Sunday.
The group set up a makeshift shelter for the night at the local high school, but only one resident had to stay overnight. Volunteers also delivered hundreds of meals a day and provided access to food, water, and even Wi-Fi at the college.
Director of Communications Holly Baker said that while some of these volunteers have seen so many disasters, no two incidents are the same.
âEvery disaster is unique in its own way, and it’s different,â Baker said. “No matter how many tornadoes, hurricanes, floods you’ve seen, each one is big, is different, and is important to the people who pass through it.”
the West suburb community pantry has also intensified. It has expanded its hours of operation to help those affected by the storm and created a hotline to help residents connect with other resources in the community.
Executive Director Laura Coyle said that while the Red Cross is working on the front lines in the early stages of the disaster, the role of the pantry is to step in as the community begins to rebuild itself.
âWe really are an agency that is here for a long time,â Coyle said. âAs people use the Red Cross for immediate relief, we are the agency here in the community once this stuff has evolved and they need to get back on their feet. So we predict that we are going to see an increase in the number of people visiting us, the number of people asking us to put them in touch with other agencies and services in the community.
Video: Watch our full interview with Laura Coyle.
Additional reporting by Nick Blumberg.
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