Watch CBS News

Woodridge Residents Cope With Emotional Impact Of Damage From Sunday Night Tornado; Village Places Priority On Getting Power Back On

WOODRIDGE, Ill. (CBS) -- Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham estimates about 100 homes were significantly damaged in the western suburb by the tornado late Sunday night - but hundreds more were touched by the storm in smaller ways such as power outages or branches down.

But neighbors also shared the damage you can't see with CBS 2's Marie Saavedra.

After a storm, cleanup is a practical job. There are power crews and tree trimmers.

And then, there's the personal.

Pam Alexander granted us permission to show you her greatest loss. Her backyard was left in ruins.

"You know what's funny? This part's emotional, right here, because this is like my safe place out here," Alexander said as she broke down.

It's funny, because Alexander's home is in far worse shape. The roof caved in over her living room. She was out of town when the tornado hit, burying the spot she sits in on her couch with her pets.

But it's the backyard that gets her.

"Being out here with my family and the people I love, this is where we've shared the best of times out here," Alexander said.

But her tears get pushed back when it's time to do business, like when Woodridge survey teams came to check out her house.

"We've made it about halfway through the damage area," Woodridge Village Administrator Al Stonitsch said of ongoing door-to-door canvassing of the damage. "We'll complete the second half today."

The information the administrator's office gathers could be used in any possible further disaster declaration, and thus, the village wanted it done as quickly as possible.

And while the village administrator is already talking about rebuilding, Alexander is still mourning what she had.

"That, 'Oh, this is a blessing, it's going to be better than it was,' and I said: 'No, you don't get it. You want it the way it was,'" she said.

It is that invisible damage that will also take time to repair.

"I know it'll be fixed and the people will be in my life, and it'll be good again, but it's hard," she said. "It's hard."

Another resident, Joe Biondo used the word "gone" repeatedly, and fittingly, to describe what had happened to his Woodridge neighborhood.

"It was our first year of the patio, now gone," he said. "Twenty, 30 seconds later everything was gone."

He is lucky that his home was mostly spared. His garage and yard were not.

"Gone in 60 seconds or less, I would say - it was quick destruction," Biondo said.

The pergola was left on its side in the tornado – but a new and dangerous kind of canopy has now developed nearby.

"The power lines - that's them there, all the way through," he said.

It is hanging proof of how much there's left to do.

"Right now, we're just hoping for the power to come back on," Biondo said.

The Biondos are some of the 700 ComEd customers still without power in Woodridge as of late Tuesday, and getting that power back on is the mayor's top concern.

"There's so much going on at once," Mayor Cunningham said.

There seemed to be a power repair crew at every corner - and Monday and Tuesday's good weather helped the progress.

"We're about up to 90 percent, which is phenomenal," Cunningham said.

Biondo was still running on generators as of Tuesday, but he thinks they're close to being restored.

"Some friends that live about three blocks down, they have their power back on. They say it's supposed to be coming on soon," he said.

And then at least one thing on Biondo's long recovery to-do list will be… gone.

The latest update from ComEd said the majority of those 700 customers without power should have it back tonight. Everyone should have it back by Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the West Suburban Community Pantry, at 6809 Hobson Valley Dr. in Woodridge, is expanding its hours to help people with food and essentials.

The pantry is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. It is also accepting donations of shelf-stable food, diapers, baby wipes, and pet food.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.