woodridge tornado

A Year Later, Some Woodridge Residents Still Picking Up The Pieces from Devastating Tornado

The EF3 tornado tore through several suburban communities leaving devastation in its path

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One year later, the village of Woodridge is still dealing with the aftermath of a devastating tornado that caused immense damage across the suburban community.

The Father's Day EF3 tornado spanned nearly 20 miles, damaging hundreds of homes. Today, several dozen remain uninhabitable.

"We’re hopeful for the future, and every day gets a little brighter," said Mayor Gina Cunningham.

She has designated July 20 as "Woodridge Strong Day," encouraging residents to take a moment of silence in honor of the victims.

"We celebrate all of the kindness and compassion that our neighbors near and far shared with us. As well as the strength and resilience of our community in getting through tough times," said Cunningham.

Skeleton Key Brewery was in the direct line of the storm and suffered severe damage. After nearly a year, it reopened on May 19. Owner Emily Slayton says there were major delays due to COVID-related supply chain issues and labor shortages.

"It’s been awesome to have this place full of people again, to have all of our staff back and working. All of that feels great, but I will admit, as we’ve approached this date I’ve had a weird growing anxiety," said Slayton, who co-owns the brewery with her husband and brother.

Slayton says a Go Fund Me, organized by fellow brewers, brought in more than $130,000 and allowed them to keep staff employed and pay bills. Insurance didn't come through until November, and construction to rebuild began the following month.

"Now that we’ve worked so hard to bring this back, there’s a part of me that’s scared of losing it again," said Slayton.

"[But] all the support, all these people backing us up, we owe it to them," she said.

Just three miles west, the Tancredi family is marking the somber anniversary with a celebration.

"We’re just really happy to be home finally," said Joseph Tancredi.

After exactly one year, they are unpacking boxes and officially moving back in. They lived in a rental for months in Naperville. Then, insurance ran out, and they've been staying in a family member's basement - all five of them and their two dogs - for five weeks.

 "I don’t know how many times I said I just want to go home," said Valerie Tancredi.

The home suffered severe damage from downed trees that took out a wall and pierced both a bathroom and bedroom wall. The family was hunkering down in the bathroom at the time of the storm and one branch nearly hit their son.

When a fire sparked from a downed power line in their back yard, a 911 dispatcher told the family to find a more secure shelter. They covered their heads with blankets and ran to a family member's home nearby.

"Please don’t look up. Please don’t look up. Just keep going," Valerie told her children.

The family is moving on, thanks in large part to their community, who immediately stepped up to help in clean up and provide meals and support.

"We were determined to build it back because we love this block. We love this neighborhood, and it’s home to us. We received tremendous support from our neighbors, from our mayor, from the community," said Joseph.

Woodridge has launched a 501C3 to help families like the Tancredis in recovery efforts. "Neighbors helping Neighbors" is a network where residents can request financial assistance and help navigating insurance claims. Click here for more information.

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