southtownstar
SPOTTY 
Weather Updates

Gallagher: Despite destruction, much to be thankful for

ErGallagher

Erin Gallagher

storyidforme: 58489001
tmspicid: 17784306
fileheaderid: 8008513

Updated: December 30, 2013 12:00PM



After the tornadoes that struck Grundy and Will counties Nov. 17, Thanksgiving is even more precious this year. Despite heart-wrenching destruction in certain areas, the hand of God swept over our community and there was no loss of life.

Too many of us came up from our basements that Sunday to witness a harsh reality — what was once there was gone, what was once whole was now broken. Most of us were spared, but we empathize with those who were not.

I saw the devastation that day and in the days that followed. At Cinder Ridge Golf Course, a row of a dozen or so trees that were at least two stories tall are now flat on the ground. The root balls were the size of compact cars. The force needed to knock them over was more than I could calculate. It was if they were plucked from the ground with God’s thumb and forefinger.

The rainbow after the storms came from the volunteers. I watched a Braidwood man warn people about downed power lines. Crews came out with chainsaws to clear Bruns Road. Manhattan Girl Scouts gathered supplies that filled garages and trailers.

Farmers brought tractors to Wilton Center to help finish the demolition. About 50 people came to Manhattan to clear a hay field. Then more than 120 came to Frankfort to walk through standing corn to remove storm debris. There is always someone who has it worse off, farmer Mark Yunker told me, right before he said his Sheer Road property damage topped $300,000. He is right.

This Thanksgiving more than ever, we need to pause and be thankful for what we have — and for not experiencing the death and greater destruction that so easily could have been. Two miles to the west, and the twisters would have taken out the entire village of Manhattan. Directly between the Bruns Road and Elevator Road touchdowns is the Lincoln Generating Station, a 2-square mile power plant that was seemingly untouched.

Jim Allen, a Bruns Road homeowner whose property was among the worst damaged, declined an interview because he was busy taking supplies to Diamond and downstate Washington, towns that were harder hit by the tornados.

Today, I am thankful for the community. The devastation is burned in my memory, but what people shared among each other was a more powerful force than what knocked down those trees at Cinder Ridge.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.