Willowbook apartment building evacuated after roof blows off due to storm

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A powerful storm rolled through the western suburbs Tuesday afternoon and a microburst tore the roof off an apartment building in Willowbrook.

“I felt like the walls started to shake and it sounded like something fell,” said Anthony Kandler, who was in the shower in his top floor apartment when part of the roof came crashing into the unit where he and his brother were in at the time.

“I grabbed food out of the microwave and then when the roof came off, it was loud and I dropped my plate and I dropped my hot pocket,” said Niquan Candler.

“So I got out of the shower to check to see what it was and I went in the room and I couldn’t get in, so I looked up and (I saw) the sky and rain and the wind was blowing,” Kandler added.

The storm blew through Willowbrook around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The damage to the building in the Hinsdale Lake Terrace apartments made the entire building unstable, forcing the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department to evacuate everyone living there.

A woman living in a neighboring building said the storm caught her off guard.

“All of a sudden it started getting dark, very windy and I heard a loud noise, so I went out our back door and I just saw all the debris flying from the roof,” said Diana Huerta.

The woman who lives in the top left apartment with her four sons said they were not at home when the storm hit. She found out when she got a call from the landlord's office.

“She’s like your roof is gone, and I said the roof is gone? She’s like the roof blew off,” said Suzy Fulk.

As she surveyed the damage, she could only shake her head in dismay.

“I can’t believe it, our whole lives are in there, our who lives are in there,” Fulk said.

Within several hours, workers were on the roof making repairs to prevent further damage from any more storms that might roll through. But for those residents without renters insurance, there is a lot of frustration and uncertainty tonight.

“All our money in the house we can’t get it because they won’t let us go in there, everything damaged, all our clothes, everything,” said Niquan Candler.

Suzy Fulk wasn’t sure what she and her boys were going to do.

“Hoping after establishing an 8 to 8 ½ year relationship with the management that we would get some help and the phone call was ‘I’m so sorry that this happened to you, it’s such a tragedy, you have to move,” she said. “Move where? Where are we gonna go?”

The Red Cross was on the scene to help displaced residents. There was no word from the apartment management about when people might be able to get back in their apartments.