One year after devastating tornado, suburban residents rally around reconstruction
WOODRIDGE, Ill. - The Father’s Day tornado damaged 400 homes last year when it swept through Naperville, Woodridge and Darien.
The houses on Woodridge Drive still bear the scars of damage. It’s been a long year of repairs and more to go.
Roofs were torn off the tops of several houses near Edgewood Elementary School.
The tornado drilled a 16-mile path through the suburbs with winds that kicked up to 140 miles per hour. Cars were tossed around and debris crashed into windows.
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The rebuilding effort was delayed by COVID-related supply chain issues and shortages, and some residents are still displaced.
"I thought we would be a lot further along than we are," said Katie Longpiper, whose Naperville home was damaged and it still being remodeled. "We didn’t have windows until February, didn’t have a chimney until three weeks ago. Our garage is still sideways and needs to be torn down."
But the strength of community and determination brought back one business — Skeleton Key Brewery.
Last year, the owners were devastated to have to tell employees they were out of a job. This year, the brewery is bigger and stronger.
Emily and Paul Slayton, owners of Skeleton Key Brewery, re-opened their business in May and said customers have been loyal and supportive. They said a GoFundMe effort helped them start the process of rebuilding right away, and that they know others are not as lucky.
Eleven people were injured and a pregnant woman’s unborn child died due to the tornado.
Neighbors have this advice for others when it comes to storms.
"Take it seriously because you never know when it’s going to be the one," said Longpiper.
Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham said what keeps impacted residents going is a force that followed the tornado — the power of community and kindness.