The harsh storms that cut their way through Illinois and spread into the Chicago area on Sunday seem to have done the most damage in central Illinois. Those of us urbanites got to watch television footage Monday morning of destruction throughout the rural community, and some of it bore a strong resemblance to the wreckage of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
THERE DOESN’T SEEM to be much of a death toll. But there are now many families who are now homeless – and there’s a chance that at least a few of them will never fully recover from their losses.
“Nov. 17, 2013” will go down as a historic date in that community’s story, and we’ll have to see in coming months how well Washington, Ill., manages to rebuild itself.
I bring this up because I wonder how many people here got hit with some heavy rain and strong winds and are now going to go on and on and on about how badly they were hit by Sunday’s storms. There’s going to be a lot of “trauma talk” from people who are going to want to compare their “losses” to what other people suffered from.
We were fortunate.
THE ONLY CHICAGO-located color of any significance related to Sunday’s storms was that the brunt of it hit the city proper right around the time that the Chicago Bears were preparing to play the Baltimore Ravens.
Fans had to take cover under the stands at Soldier Field, and the game itself was delayed a couple of hours. Soggy and shuddering fans got a few stories tell that they will remember much longer than the 23-20 final score – or even the fact that the Bears, themselves, won!
But it would have taken a direct tornado touchdown (as opposed to a football one) on the playing surface itself (sending those upper decks flying off into Lake Michigan, or maybe crashing into the Willis Tower) for THAT to have been more significant than the destruction in rural Illinois.
The Chicago Tribune on Monday reported a death toll of six people across the state, with some 21 tornado touchdowns across the state.
NOT TO DETRACT too much from the people who suffered serious loss. But we should consider that most of us were very fortunate, and that we live in a place where the major devastation (the fire of 1871) occurred nearly a century-and-a-half ago.
In my own case, I was in suburban Tinley Park with my brother around mid-day, which was the point in time when the brunt of the storm soared over my head.
That isn’t too far (just one community over) from the tornado touchdown in suburban Frankfort. And I have to confess that for about 10 minutes, the sky got uglier than usual and I had to wonder if something could possibly happen outside.
Yet, the storm managed to pass over me, and within a half hour there was light again in the sky and the only evidence that anything had occurred were the leaves and branches that were blown about the street – making more of a mess than usual!
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT Sunday center around how fortunate I was NOT to have to suffer. It is a feeling we all ought to be thinking these days, even while Gov. Pat Quinn spent his Monday touring assorted sites that WERE hit by the storms.
That, and doing our part to use a rake to clean up the mess on our property.
Because just leaving it there and counting on some future storm to wash the debris away? That’s even lazier than those people whose houses already have their Christmas holiday decorations up because they never bothered to take them down last year!