Coal City residents wake up to damage after Monday’s tornado

SHARE Coal City residents wake up to damage after Monday’s tornado

COAL CITY — As daylight arrived Tuesday, officials said the tornado that churned across this rural community of about 5,000 people had not taken any lives. Five people were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries, officials said at a press conference in neighboring Diamond.

“At this point, we believe we’ve accounted for everybody,” said Deputy Chief Todd Friddle of the Wilmington Fire Protection District.

But to be sure, crews were preparing to do a second check Tuesday morning.

SEVERE MONDAY Weather service confirms 9 tornadoes touched down, including EF-3 in Coal City ‘It’s so scary,’ Rauner says while touring Coal City after EF-3 tornado

Friddle described the damage from Monday’s twister as “eerily close” to the damage the communities of Coal City and Diamond experienced from a tornado in November 2013.

Coal City Mayor Terry Halliday described the area’s misfortune at having been hit twice in less than two years as unfortunate.

“But I do know the resiliency of this community,” he said. “I’ve lived here all my life. Neighbors will come out and help neighbors, and we will make it through this.”

About three dozen agencies are helping with the search effort in Coal City.

HOW TO HELP A Facebook page for donations and inquiries

Pamela Burla had been both longing for and dreading the first light of day.

And as Tuesday dawned with a spectacular salmon-pink sunrise, Burla couldn’t believe what she saw.

“I’m not even processing this right now,” said Burla, 35, surveying the crushed buildings, uprooted trees, a flattened grain silo — among the almost incomprehensible devastation across the Burla family farm in Coal City.

A view of damage on W Daisy Place after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr / Getty Images

A view of damage on W Daisy Place after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr / Getty Images

It’s the second time in less than two years that a twister has cut across the Burla family’s land. Last time, Burla and her family were shopping in a neighboring town. The damage to their property was

minimal.

This time, when the sirens wailed, they were at home. Burla, her husband and their two young sons waited it out in their basement.

“I felt my ears hurting from the pressure, and then I said, ‘It’s here!’” Burla recalled.

The tornado chewed up a niece’s outdoor playset and shattered the windows to one of her son’s bedroom — mostly superficial stuff.

Burla’s sister-in-law wasn’t so lucky. The tornado peeled off and crushed a large section of her home’s roof.

“I haven’t gotten the guts to walk over there yet,” Burla said.

But as Burla tried to make sense of her family’s misfortune at enduring two tornados in so short a period of time, she took solace in the obvious.

“Every time we get upset about it, we remind each other we’re here — we survived it again,” Burla said. “Nobody died — again.”

The National Weather Service confirmed that at least nine tornadoes touched down Monday night.

The tornado that struck Coal City and the Braidwood area was an EF-3 tornado with peak winds of 160 mph, the weather service said Tuesday.

The EF-3 designation is the third highest on the scale that measures the strength of tornadoes. EF-3 tornadoes packs winds of between 136 and 165 mph.

It was one of nine confirmed tornadoes that spun off from one long supercell thunderstorm that moved across northern Illinois Tuesday night. The storm also brought torrential rainfall of 3 to 5 inches to areas already saturated with recent rains.

This map from the National Weather Service shows the path of the tornadoes.

This map from the National Weather Service shows the path of the tornadoes.

A second tornado, a high-end EF-2 tornado, left a path about one-half-mile long from Woodhaven Lakes to south of Sublette, with estimated wind speeds reaching 130 mph.

Two other tornadoes, both EF-1 in strength, touched down separately on either side of the village of Harmon, and a third EF-1 touched down near Mendota, the weather service said.

Three other EF-1 tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down to the north of Ottawa, to the north and east of Kankakee, and southwest of Coal City, parallel to the path of the EF-3 tornado.

A ninth tornado, an EF-0, passed south of the village of Herscher, the weather service said.

Survey teams are continuing to investigate other possible tornado damage in LaSalle, Gundy and Kankakee counties over the coming days.

Pam Hume hid in a bathtub in her ranch house with her husband, James, and a pillow. Their son, Josh, hid in another tub down the hall.

“We just held on for dear life,” said Hume, 60.

“We knew it was raining because the roof was gone. Thankfully the roof flew off and didn’t break apart and land on us,” Hume said. “But Insulation was falling and plaster from the dry wall. . . . There was no pressure, it didn’t suck us up or anything.”

Hume, still wearing her nightgown, sought shelter at her daughter’s house in a neighboring town.

“We’re headed back this morning to look for our cats,” said Hume, a retired Grundy County worker who owns four Siamese cats: Lily, Daisy, Chloe and Zoey.

“Yesterday we were talking about getting new French doors. Now our house is gone,” she said with a laugh.

“Our lives are intact. What’s in the house are just things that can be replaced.”

Her thoughts were clear as she shielded herself with the pillow.

“I just wanted to stay alive, I guess.”

When the tornado passed, the three crawled out to see their mangled front door at a neighbor’s house. None of the Humes was injured.

A tornado touchdown in Coal City Monday night left a trail of damage through the town. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

A tornado touchdown in Coal City Monday night left a trail of damage through the town. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Utility workers tend to eletric lines on S Carbon Hill Road after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois.| Jon Durr/Getty Images

Utility workers tend to eletric lines on S Carbon Hill Road after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois.| Jon Durr/Getty Images

A view of damage on W Daisy Place after a tornado struck the previous day on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

A view of damage on W Daisy Place after a tornado struck the previous day on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

People walk past wreckage near Elizabeth Drive and Coaler Drive after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

People walk past wreckage near Elizabeth Drive and Coaler Drive after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

Lighting strikes outside of Joliet, Illinois from a tornadic supercell that produced a tornado that struck Coal City on June 22, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Lighting strikes outside of Joliet, Illinois from a tornadic supercell that produced a tornado that struck Coal City on June 22, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images)

A view of damage at Coaler Drive and Elizabeth Drive after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

A view of damage at Coaler Drive and Elizabeth Drive after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

A view of damage on Coaler Drive after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images)

A view of damage on Coaler Drive after a tornado struck the previous day, on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois. | Jon Durr/Getty Images)

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