Surveying tornado damage, a Sriracha shortage and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Framed by , Marion Novak speaks on the phone outside her home in the 10000 block of Hillsdale Road in Countryside, Ill., Thursday, July 11, 2023, after a tornado blew off her roof and garage door the night before. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Marion Novak is framed by parts of her roof jutting from the ground in the 10000 block of Hillsdale Road in Countryside.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

I was in the middle of cooking dinner last night when the tornado warning sirens went off.

Suddenly, there were too many things happening at once, and I had to make quick decisions. What does the radar look like? What’s the safest part of my apartment building? What do I do with the boiling broth on my stove? One of my neighbors texted, asking if he needed to find shelter and where.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has a few tips on its website for the next tornado warning.

Fortunately, no injuries have been reported yet from last night’s storms, although a number of trees were uprooted and roofs torn off. Our reporters, who spoke to some residents affected by the damage, have the latest updates.

As for dinner, my pasta wasn’t that good for all the time and effort I put into it. But, we have some reads in today’s newsletter that are well worth your time.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Ellery Jones, audience engagement specialist (@elleryrjones)


Roofs torn off, trees uprooted, but no known injuries after tornadoes churned across Chicago area

Reporting by Stefano Esposito

A post-warning scramble: The meatballs in tomato sauce sat untouched in a frying pan on the stove Thursday morning. Such was the haste with which Kathy Collins fled her kitchen the night before to dash into the basement in west suburban Countryside.

“We turned off the gas, made it onto the staircase, and then things just started collapsing,” said Collins, whose house had a blue tarp stretched across its roof a day after a suspected tornado hit the area.

No known injuries: That tornado touched down in Burr Ridge, churning from west to east across Indian Head Park, Countryside and Hodgkins, said Karl Argast, chief of the Pleasantview Fire Protection District. Fire crews there responded to 47 calls in the first hour after the twister struck, but there were no known injuries, Argast said, “a blessing, with the amount of damage.”

Other tornados reported: The National Weather Service confirmed early Thursday afternoon that an EF1 tornado — with EF0 being the least powerful on a scale from zero to five — had touched down near Elgin Wednesday, as well as the one in the west suburbs, although it hadn’t yet been rated. A team of meteorologists was near O’Hare Airport Thursday checking on damage from a suspected twister there.




Amy Le, owner of Saucy Porka, with her entire stock of Huy Fong Sriracha at her Hyde Park restaurant.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times



A Joos painting inside a Sunday school classroom in Chicago. “Very abstract,” no particular meaning behind it, he says. The objective is to create a piece “as cool as possible,” says Joos.


Reporting by Robert Herguth

With spray paint cans in hand, the Chicago graffiti artist who goes by Joos has plied his illicit trade in furious fashion all around the city.

Inside a darkened teaching hospital where two stainless-steel autopsy tables, replete with drains, sat side by side.

In the quiet sanctuary of a church.

Inside shuttered schools.

On the concrete foundation of an unfinished home next to a flooded lot he had to wade through.

On towering billboards, dank viaducts, sprawling rooftops.

In a rotting building with floors covered in excrement from the drug users sharing the space.

But it’s L stations and trains that are some of his favorite targets.

“Love trains,” says Joos, a street name pronounced the same as “juice.”

“That’s where the whole thing was born — New York subways,” he says of graffiti art. “And it spilled out from there.”

In just a few years, Joos’ artwork — though he knows some see it not as art but the acts of a vandal — has spilled onto Chicago’s streets to the extent he’s gone from a virtual unknown to one of the city’s most prolific and best-known graffiti artists.




Three endangered piping plover chicks were released into the wild Wednesday at Montrose Beach — the first time plovers raised in captivity were released in Chicago.

Tamima Itani/Chicago Piping Plovers

Trio of piping plover chicks released at Montrose Beach

Reporting by Kaitlin Washburn

Three endangered piping plover chicks were released into the wild Wednesday at Montrose Beach — the first time plovers raised in captivity were released in Chicago.

The three chicks were set free at a protected site on Montrose Beach as a part of ongoing recovery efforts for the piping plovers.

“The support the Chicago community has shown has been a major part of the decision to bring them here,” said Tamima Itani, coordinator of Chicago Piping Plovers.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources picked up seven chicks from Michigan Wednesday. In addition to the three now at Montrose Beach, four others were also released at Illinois Beach State Park.

“It’s a really big deal,” Itani said. “A big part of the rationale to bring them here is that the Illinois and Chicago community has shown up for the piping plovers.”

The three chicks, named Searocket, Prickley Pear and Wild Indigo, have been exploring their new environment at Montrose Beach. Their names are a nod to the native plants in the Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area.

They immediately ran to take a bath in the lake once they were released. One also wandered over to the volleyball courts, and another checked out the boardwalk, Itani said.



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Editor: Satchel Price

Newsletter reporter: Ellery Jones

Copy editor: Angie Myers

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