FOX 32 NEWS - Tornadoes wreaked havoc in Ottawa on Tuesday and the biggest loss was not property, but the life of an elderly man who lived in a home adorned with a sign hanging from his front porch that says “God Bless America.”
A massive tree came crashing down across the man’s backyard. It crushed two vehicles and narrowly missed the home. But tragically, 76-year-old Wayne Tuntland was out in his backyard at the time. He died when the tree fell on him.
Neighbors say Tuntland always used his snow plow to clear their sidewalks and they say he was your classic, all around good neighbor.
“It's sad, that was the oldest tree in LaSalle County, to hit such a nice man, it's just unfathomable,” said neighbor Andrew Kujawa.
Across the South Side of Ottawa you could hear the sound of people cleaning up. On street after street, the tornado toppled trees with some being ripped out by their roots. Many trees came down on power lines, which meant crews were going to be working through the night to restore power.
“We have just a few broken windows, some ripped off siding and some bushes that were uprooted, the back of our garage was pretty dented in, but it's stable for the moment,” said homeowner Cheyeen Goetsch.
FOX 32: You must feel fortunate compared to some others?
“Oh, yes, very,” Goetsch said.
The Red Cross set up a shelter in the Ottawa Township High School. They were expecting a dozen or so people to spend the night on cots.
Krystal Higgins and her family stopped by looking for assistance, but opted for a hotel after a rough night last night spent in their home without heat or electricity.
“Last night was a little rough,” said Higgins.
FOX 32: What are you thinking about how long it's going to take to get back in your home?
“Yeah…it's gonna’ be quite a while,” Higgins said.
And that could be the case for many others as they try to regroup after a tornado they won't forget for a long time.