WOODRIDGE, Ill. — As disaster recovery efforts are underway after the latest tornado outbreak, the Village of Woodridge is still working to recover from one that hit the community nearly two summers ago.
At the Woodridge Country Club Condo Association, 24 homeowners and their families are still displaced as recovery efforts remain ongoing.
“21 months ago, this area was hit by an EF-3 tornado, and the recovery is still not complete. Last weekend our district was hit again from Aurora to Belvidere, with severe storm damage,” said Congressman Bill Foster.
On Monday, Foster joined other lawmakers, Village of Woodridge representatives, Woodridge Neighbors Helping Neighbors Disaster Recovery board members, and representatives with the homeowners’ association for Woodridge Country Club 5 to share an outlook for the future of disaster recovery efforts.
“This is a very emotional time for all of us, so I do thank you for being here. I’m very grateful for our neighbors, for their care and their resilience. This has been a long, difficult road,” said Mayor Gina Cunningham. “Throughout, we have tried to send that message that you are not alone. I know sometimes it may feel like that, but we have not stopped in 21 months in trying to give and stay connected with our legislators.”
Some residents impacted by the storm said they are staying with family, with others staying or in hotels or rental properties if their insurance allows for it, and shared with WGN that the entire ordeal has been traumatizing.
On Monday, Mayor Cunningham and local and state leaders provided an update they hoped would bring some hope to residents impacted.
“Recently, over the weekend, there has been communication from Farmers Insurance, which is the insurance company for the property here, indicating that movement going forward, based upon that information, we’ll be able to move forward here rather quickly,” said Sen. John Curran.
“I think the two takeaways to present is we finally got movement with Farmers in moving forward with the rehabilitation and repair of the properties, as well as relief that representatives Avelar and Stava-Murray are working to securing from the State of Illinois to also provide additional relief,” said Curran, calling the process ‘ongoing’ and ‘very persistent.'”
Curran and other lawmakers said there needs to be pressure on the insurance companies, especially after a disaster of this nature, to show them that they are being watched closely.
While a representative for the homeowners’ association on site Monday declined to cite insurance as the main cause of the re-construction and repair delays during a press conference, MC Property Management Corporation’s Director of Operations, Carlo Caprio, shared a statement with WGN following the press conference.
“MC Property Management Corporation has worked diligently with the Association’s Public Adjuster and Insurance Carrier to try and get to an amicable resolution to the amount of work needed and dollars needed to fund the re-construction for Woodridge Club Condominium Association #5 from the June 20, 2021, tornado that struck the community.”
Caprio said their company has worked with the Village of Woodridge and Neighbors Helping Neighbors to direct residents to organization for their needs whether it be clothing, food, shelter, or other financial assistance, since the storm left dozens impacted.
“It is important to understand the tornado caused an extremely large insurance loss for the association and we have worked tirelessly to get a resolution with the insurance carrier,” wrote Caprio.
He said the scope of the work and funding for the project is ‘significant’ and why it has taken so long to get a resolution and approvals from insurance to start the reconstruction project.
“On Friday March 31, 2023, I received some positive news that the insurance carrier has approved a significant payout for the construction phase of this project. We are now awaiting the documentation to be finalized so that we know what funding was approved and when we can start the re-construction efforts to get these residents back into their homes,” Caprio wrote.
Many residents are still left reeling over the events of the last nearly two years and tell WGN they just want to be back in their homes and want better communication on the timeline from property management.
The 24 homes condemned are marked with signs on the door by the Village of Woodridge, and residents said they cannot do the necessary repairs inside their units to fix the damage, until the building fixes the buildings themselves.
This isn’t the first time officials have discussed the condo association. Just weeks before Christmas in 2021 more than 50 families at the condo association received a letter saying they had to be out of their homes before Christmas, due to water needing to be shut off for the winter months.
Residents spoke with WGN back when they were forced out in 2021, and some of those same residents, were outside Monday listening as officials provided an update.
Nonprofit partner Woodridge Neighbors Helping Neighbors for Disaster Relief was founded after the storm and has helped people in the community get connected to resources. The initiative continues to encourage anyone needing assistance to reach out.