Tornado Confirmed in Matteson

The people of Matteson never saw it coming until seconds before. Snow, maybe. Sleet, perhaps. But a tornado? Never.

"I’ve lived here 55 years, and I have never experienced anything like it,” said Richard Lepert.

But what did come was what the National Weather Service confirmed Thursday was an EF1 classified tornado.  Tornadoes are measured from EF0 to EF5, with EF5 being the most severe.

Wednesday's twister ripped apart decades-old trees and left families like the Joneses down in their basements sweeping out water. 

Ron Jones was on the Metra unable to get beyond Homewood when the storm hit.

"About 6:30 I heard the sirens go off downtown and I'm calling like, 'Is everything OK? Is everyone in the basement? I don’t want anything to go wrong,'" Jones recalled.

While Jones raced home to family, the Matteson police checked in on 98-year-old Norvilla Washington to make sure she was alright.

"I was so upset," said Washington.  "I didn’t want to get out of the house.  The police then came and took me to the Holiday Inn." 

Norvilla was safe, but there was a different victim: the ancient pine tree that lay split in half across her front yard.

This wasn’t just an isolated case of community love.  About a dozen other neighboring communities have reached out to help, said Matteson's Village Administrator, Brian Mitchell.

"I was making this calls this morning, and if I wasn’t making calls my phone was ringing. People just saying, 'Hey we’ve seen what you’re going through and we’d love to help,'" Mitchell said.

So while the worst may be over, it is now up to residents to clean up and make sense of the destruction left behind.

"I thought we never really get the bad weather that they do up in the north so I wasn’t really worried. It just happened so quickly. We are thankful that we are all ok," said resident Kenyonia Hays.

Matteson has one for the record books, and one resident will remember the outreach the community has received more than she will the damage.

"It’s just been amazing seeing the kind of support from the communities outside of our area," said Dorris Phillips.

Several other twisters were reported during Wednesday's storms, including sightings in Beecher and others in Will County.  But without the funnel clouds having touched down, there is no way to confirm whether any of those were tornadic, said NWS meteorologist Casey Sullivan said.

In west suburban Oak Brook, it was determined the area was not hit by a tornado, but by straight line winds. The damage was spread out at least a mile wide and consisted of numerous downed tree limbs and uprooted trees.

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