For those of you who are unaware of the recent disaster in Utica, Illinois (a small little place only a few miles from where I grew up) a friend sent me this link to photos of the tornado as it was coming towards Utica, and photos of the aftermath. Eight people died as they went for cover in a 100 year old building they assumed was safer than their trailers. The building was destroyed, and the trailer park was untouched.
Where did you grow up? I grew up about 50 miles from there and have to drive by it to get to my hometown.
Ottawa, Illinois…just East of Utica. A friend of mine come from Utica and her family is still there - luckily they live on farms a few miles away and saw the tornado, but it didn’t go their direction.
When I was 15, a tornado hit a small community near where I lived. While it was much smaller than this one, it slammed a residental neighborhood pretty bad.
I can still smell that stench to this day…
My thoughts are with those people today.
On April 3rd, 1974, tornadoes hit much of the midwest, southeast, and Ohio Valley, killing 346 people. My parents had left us with a babysitter that night and as the storm raged we became terrified. The sitter took us to the basement and all was well until the power went out and we freaked. At this point the sitter called my parents and they decided it was best to come home. After that I remember lying in sleeping bags first on the kitchen floor and then later in the basement while my mother listened to the news on the radio. The newscaster was describing the damage the storm was doing in neighboring towns and I begged her to turn it off because I was so frightened–the news of what the tornadoes had done to Brandenburg, KY was awful–but my mother said she had to have it on to find out if we were in danger of getting hit by a tornado. The next day the sun was out, the sky was blue, and except for the news reporting the horrible death toll in the surrounding towns you wouldn’t have known anything had happened.
No tornadoes hit Lexington on that occasion. We did see some of the tornado damage later in other towns-- car lots where cars were picked up and smashed against the dealership buildings, and houses that were almost completly ripped away, with only the stairwells left. We gave some clothes and toys to people who had lost things because of the storm.
7 years later there was a storm. A bad one. I heard the wind screaming and stuff blowing by and a siren howling while I stood there wondering what was happening. (Like, after my previous experience, I couldn’t figure it out.) My parents turned on their weather radio, which announced to them that it was “Cloudy outside.” A small tornado was hitting our neighborhood and we just stood there like doofuses almost oblivious to it. (Luckily this tornado didn’t kill anyone, though it did destroy a pickup truck and a few good sized trees.)
Ah, I went to college with a guy from there. Also, I know it’s kinda nearby, but interestingly enough, I work with a woman who commutes from Peru to Downers Grove every day. Almost 100 miles each way!!
As did I, in my case about 50 miles ESE of Utica.
I’ve seen some photos and read about the Joliet tornado that same day, and it looked horrifying enough; the Utica damage looks simply horrible. I heard some comparisons to the big 1990 tornado that hit near Plainfield/Joliet. (I remember living somewhat close to that area then; the worried anticipation of listening to the radio broadcasters saying how two major tornadoes were headed directly towards our area was something I’ll never quite forget.)
Gosh, seeing all that damage on roads I’ve been down before (granted, not in many years) is amazing.
I was due west right on 80