NAPERVILLE, Ill. — A confirmed EF-3 tornado moved through the southwest suburbs overnight, with Naperville and Woodridge suffering the brunt of the damage.
The destruction caused by the twister — estimated to be about three blocks wide while covering a three-mile radius — left cars overturned, trees uprooted, downed power lines and homes destroyed beyond repair. The National Weather Service confirms “damage consistent with an EF-3 rating” in the Woodridge/Naperville area.
Multiple injuries have been reported, but no one has died as a result of the severe weather. Cleanup has been ongoing after the storm’s velocity tore through the Chicago suburbs.
A tornado was also confirmed to have touched down in Plainfield.
“This tornado went through so quickly and so dramatically it affected homes in so many different ways,” said Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.
Officials assessed the damage in the daylight, as meteorologists with the National Weather Service canvassed the ground as well.
“There’s a lot of EF-1 damage. That would be a lot of the large tree limbs taken out. The damage you see to homes…that starts to get into the EF-2 range. And so, EF-2 and EF-3 are both certainly in play here,” said Eric Lenning, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Monday afternoon, meteorologists confirmed the storm to be an EF-3 twister.
In total, 22 homes in Naperville were deemed “uninhabitable” and 130 others were damaged. Eight people were hospitalized but all but two have been released. Edwards Hospital says a couple hospitalized after being rescued from a home that was leveled to the ground is now in good to fair condition.
“We had to split up very quickly and find out what the highest priority was. Noticed that the building was completely demolished like that and noticed the sounds of people, so we put our technical rescue team into place,” said Chief Mark Pukmaitis with the Naperville Fire Department.
When the tornado touched down just after 11 p.m., many people were sleeping but report being awoken by tornado sirens and cellphones alerts. As a result, many were able to rush to safety.
“Through the entire track of this tornado, you saw instances like this where homes have their walls torn off, their roofs torn off but because people were able to get to a strong central room in their house or basement if they can, we saw, so far, no loss of life,” said Congressman Bill Foster.
Those early warning signs and sounds helped save lives, officials said.
After the sirens sounded, the phone began to ring.
“Once the tornado touched down, we had over 200 calls for service,” said Police Chief Brian Cunningham. “People couldn’t get out of their garages. There was damage to their doors. There was debris in the way. Some people were elderly. Some people had medical issues. They were on oxygen.”
Firs responders answered the call as mother nature raged around them.
“It was difficult,” Cunningham said. “They handled the situation tremendously.”
As the morning broke, the true devastation was revealed.
“I’ve lived in Woodridge since 1967,” said Mayor of Woodridge Gina Cunningham. “I do not personally remember any type of event like this.”
The cleanup will happen overtime, but the mayor says the impact could last much longer.
“I’m just emotional because it’s devastating to drive through the community that I grew up in work in and share with so many wonderful neighbors,” Mayor Cunningham said.
In the interim, the Red Cross is providing resources for those in need.
“If the family or individual is suffering a little bit more than maybe that person can help, then we have disaster mental health professionals,” said Brian McDaniel, executive director of the American Red Cross in River Valley. “These are licensed, clinical social workers. They’re practitioners who can help us out.
“Our job is to help people in times of need and we’re going to help alleviate that human suffering. We’re not going to leave until the last person is taken care of.”
For the latest weather updates, go to wgnv.com/weather.