Naperville Tornado One Year Later: Sally’s Story

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Today marks one year since a tornado ravaged several Naperville and Woodridge neighborhoods.

“It was terrible,” said Naperville homeowner Sally Benson of the storm.  “It was like a nightmare.”

Benson said she was heading for the basement when the tornado hit her neighborhood.

“I was halfway down the stairs when an alert in my phone went off and then all this noise, scary,” said Benson.  “But that was it and it was over very quickly.”

She came up from her basement and outside to discover fallen trees everywhere.  But not a single window on her house was shattered.  She did lose something meaningful to her however.

“What struck me and made me super sad is that a pergola that my husband had made was smashed and my husband passed away five years ago,” she explained.

Still, she’s grateful for her neighbors coming together.

“They were so sweet, like ‘How can I help you?’ Everybody was wanting to help everybody else.”

City’s Response to the 2021 Tornado

Benson is also grateful for the city’s response.

“I think the city of Naperville did a great job of taking care of the city collectively,” she said.   “I never lost power and anybody that they did they must’ve got back quickly.  I know they worked really hard to keep traffic down, to keep a police presence.”

Over the past year, Benson has worked with Marci Schatz, Deputy City Manager for the City of Naperville, and Janet Derek of Loaves and Fishes to assist other tornado victims.  They put together a questionnaire, which reached more than 70 homeowners, to see what needs they may have.  Many of them she said had to do with insurance or contractor issues.  She also said both the city and Morton arboretum have assisted in replacing the many uprooted parkway trees in her subdivision, and the city’s emergency management team is putting together a list of do’s and don’ts to hand to storm victims in the event that something like this should happen again.

Benson said she’s learned quite a few things herself.

“I’ll listen to the weather forecast closer.  I might go to the basement a little sooner.  I’ve had my  insurance reviewed.  And I think most everybody else has done those same things and hopefully we’ve put into action what we’ve learned.”