‘I feel so lucky,’ Rogers Park woman says after falling tree missed her — twice

The 1600 block of West Jarvis Avenue was among the hardest-hit after a tornado passed through Rogers Park on Monday.

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Mirella Morena was using her garden hose moments before a neighbor’s tree fell where she was standing.

Mirella Morena was using her garden hose moments before a neighbor’s tree fell where she was standing.

Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Mirella Moreno shook her head in disbelief Tuesday afternoon as she yanked on a hose stuck under a fallen tree.

“I think how close I was to being dead,” she said, her voice trailing off. 

Moreno used the hose to wash dirt off her feet after working in her garden and had just walked into her Rogers Park home when a neighbor’s tree fell over in strong winds and landed where she’d been standing.

She got lucky again when a portion of the same tree fell through a sliding glass door into her house and narrowly missed her and her husband, who were preparing to cook dinner on their outdoor grill. The grill was crushed.

“I feel so lucky,” said Moreno, who with her husband, Adan Moreno, runs the Mexican restaurant Mas Alla Del Sol in Edgewater.

The Moreno house was perhaps the most damaged home on the 1600 block of West Jarvis Avenue, which seemed to be among the hardest-hit blocks after a tornado passed through Rogers Park Monday afternoon.

Democratic State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who lives on the east end of the block, had taken cover in her basement when the air pressure all of the sudden changed and her ears popped as the shingles began flying off nearby roofs.

Cassidy’s spouse, Candace Gingrich, said they were waiting it out in the basement when she realized “Where is Simon?” — their cat. She ran upstairs to search but, after seeing the chaos outside, quickly decided “Simon’s on his own.”

This tree in the 1600 block of West Jarvis Avenue split into several pieces during a severe storm Monday.

This tree in the 1600 block of West Jarvis Avenue split into several pieces during a severe storm Monday.

Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

On Tuesday, as she helped clean the neighborhood, Gingrich said she felt lucky because a tree had fallen where she’d been standing outside moments earlier. Simon was also unscathed.

There were no reported injuries on the block, but dozens of trees that formed an uninterrupted canopy over the block before the storm had crashed into homes, fences and cars. 

“The whole ecosystem of this neighborhood has changed,” Cassidy said of the effect of tree damage.

A block west, Linda Bache stood outside her damaged home and described the chaos.

“There was an eerie calm, then it got real dark, and then boom. The sound. It was so loud all at once. All the trees snapping at the same time and striking vehicles and homes and glass all at once. It was a cacophony of sound,” she said. 

“Part of the beauty of this neighborhood is all these trees. So it’s really upsetting.”

This tree was uprooted in the 1600 block of West Jarvis Avenue when a severe storm and tornado passed over Rogers Park on Monday, Aug. 10.

This tree was uprooted in the 1600 block of West Jarvis Avenue when a severe storm and tornado passed over Rogers Park on Monday.

Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times file

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