Rochelle & Fairdale, IL Tornado Victims Receive Donation From Storm Chaser Organization
On April 9th, 2015, 7 tornadoes occurred in northern Illinois including a long track, violent EF-4 tornado that would unfortunately claim the lives of 2, in the small unincorporated town of Fairdale, IL. This tornado would leave a path of destruction for approximately 30 miles across Lee, Ogle, Boone & DeKalb counties in Illinois. The most notable damage would be just northwest of Rochelle, where several houses and a restaurant were completely destroyed, and the city of Fairdale where 20-25 homes were a complete loss.
Storm Chasers Tom Purdy, Adam Lucio and Alec Scholten made the drive to Kirkland, IL on behalf of Storm Assist to deliver the donation. Here is Tom Purdy’s story:
“On April 20th, Storm Assist purchased 40 $50.00 gift cards to be donated to the communities of Rochelle and Fairdale. On that morning Alec Scholten and myself decided we would make a trip to Kirkland, the volunteer base for Fairdale, and give some of our time to do what we could to help out for a few hours before the donation was scheduled. While sorting donations we met with a lady who was directly affected by the tornado, needless to say she had lost her home. While speaking with her, she made the comment that I thought showed the true spirit of the residents in the area to which she said “I’m still here, the rest can be replaced” a moment that made you realize that these people would all be ok.
From Kirkland we made the short trek to Rochelle and to the Rochelle fire department where we met Adam Lucio, who would be presenting the city of Rochelle with the donation from Storm Assist. We met with Fire Captain Ben Johnson who took several minutes with us to explain that he was the one who set off the tornado sirens in the city that evening. Captain Johnson also explained how the fire department responded immediately to aid in search and rescue at a restaurant in northwest Rochelle, where people were still trapped immediately following the tornado. Ben to our surprise was also very educated in the weather field and explained to us what it was like watching your own town be in the path. Mr Johnson graciously accepted the donation and was very thankful for the outpouring of support from so many different people.
From Rochelle we made the short drive back to the Kirkland fire department to meet with Fire Chief Chad Connell to make the second donation. The Kirkland fire department was also a center for donations and there was no lack of supplies on hand, showing how well this community has also came together. One thing that caught my attention was a drawing on the wall with the words “Fairdale” written on it with drawings from local kids and the hashtag “Small Town Strong” something I will always remember.
Fire Chief Connell had to leave for a few minutes so as we waited as TV crew from WTVO in Rockford interviewed Adam about the donation and Storm Assist. Fire Chief Connell returned and accepted the donation and stated they would be handed out to members of the community the following night at a town hall meeting.
Driving home that evening I was overcome with a little emotion, not from what was seen, not from what was heard, but from realizing that through the darkest days of their lives that all these small town Midwestern folks will bounce back from this, they will all move on and be ok. They will always be #SmallTownStrong”