The tornado appeared to start in Naperville, then cut a destructive path through Woodridge, Darien and Downers Grove.
A tornado ripped through the western suburbs late Sunday night, severely damaging homes and knocking out power. No serious injuries were reported.
The tornado touchdown was confirmed about 11:10 p.m. near Route 53 and 75th Street in Woodridge, the weather service said. It also hit portions of Naperville, Downers Grove and Darien, according to the National Weather Service.
Emergency crews continued going door to door to check on residents into the early morning.
“We have no power at all. I’m sitting in the dark waiting to hear back about what’s going on and gathering reports,” Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham said early Monday.
Nate Casey, 16, strummed his guitar as he sat in a lawn chair with his mother, Bridget Casey, in their driveway around 4 a.m. The entire second floor of their house was gone, and their garage was partially destroyed.
The home is in the 7800 block of Woodridge Drive, believed to be one of the areas hit hardest by the storm.
Nate said he was watching TV when the storm rolled through. “I just heard a loud crash and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, what are my brothers up to?’ I go look and I see the sky, and then I hear my brothers screaming from the room.”
Nate, a student at Downers Grove South, helped his mother get his three younger siblings to the basement. He grabbed some of his camping equipment and scout gear just to be safe before going down himself.
“I just can’t believe it happened, you know? It’s not something that you see too often or at all, and it’s just scary that everything just comes crashing in,” Nate said. “Something that I was happy to see, that was not broken, was my dad’s ashes, but there’s really nothing else. It’s all material, I’m still worried about the bearded dragon that’s stuck up there but we’re going to get him in the morning.”
He said he was waiting for the streets to be cleared so his aunt could get them.
“It’s been long,” Bridget Casey said as she pulled a quilt tighter around her shoulders. “Just trying to make sure that we can get everything taken care of, we have all the important stuff and waiting for the roads to be cleared enough so my sisters can come.”
Bridget Casey said she plans to live with her sister while their house gets repaired, though she doesn’t know how long that will take.
“I was just happy that everybody was OK,” she said.
Down the street was Donna Suchecki, who gathered in a driveway with a few of her neighbors. They sipped wine and moonshine out of blue plastic cups and talked about the damage.
“It’s overwhelming, I think we’re … all of us are like, ‘Oh my God, this really happened.’ It’s kind of a dream, you see it on TV, you see shows, you see stuff like that on tornados and … then you come out here and you see the cops, you see the fire trucks and stuff and you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ … We got lucky, it could’ve been something really seriously,” Suchecki said.
Heaps of trees covered Suchecki’s front lawn, but “luckily nothing hit” the house, she said. Her fence was smashed under a tree, though she said it needed to be replaced anyway.
“When I see this in the morning tomorrow, we’ll deal with it when we have to,” Suchecki, 45, said.
Across the street, two cars sat untouched on a slab of cement where the garage once was. Suchecki said it was uprooted and tossed into the backyard, where it hit a power line, leaving the block without power.
“It could be worse,” said Suchecki. “It’s crazy to go through this, that’s a traumatic event.”
The tornado appears to have started in south Naperville, headed east, smashing cars, ripping the roofs off homes, downing power lines, shearing off garage doors, uprooting large trees and spewing debris in the streets.
“Our first priority was making sure that the families were OK but now we are moving on to handling the damage,” said Linda LaCloche, Naperville communications director.
”We have power outages in the area and have electrical teams checking on that. We also had some gas leaks reported so Nicor Gas is going door to door to shut off all the gas lines.”
Crystal Porter was on her way home from her mother’s home in Joliet when she got a tornado warning alert. She said it took her five attempts to find a pathway to her home on the 2700 block of Everglade Avenue. Ultimately, the retired military veteran had to move a tree to do so.
After check in with her dogs, Porter walked around the streets to assess the damage.
“I couldn’t believe it. I’ve lived here for 27 years and I’ve never seen trees come down here like this ever,” Porter said.
During her walk, Porter noticed firefighters performing a search and rescue at a nearby partially destroyed home remove a cage filled with doves. With the owners not home, Porter grabbed a dog crate from her garage and rescued the birds.
“At least their not left out in the street,” she said.
There were at least 12 homes damaged by the tornado in Naperville. Four people were transported with noncritical injuries to Edward Hospital. There were also six to 10 others transported with minor injuries.
Darien Police reported no serious injuries initially nor did Woodridge.
This is a developing story, check back for details.