Naperville Tornado Relief organizers honored at city council meeting

(L to R) Naperville Tornado Relief's Kelly Doughtery, Naperville City Councilwoman Jennifer Bruzan Taylor, and Naperville Tornado Relief's Kristy Kennedy
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During their Tuesday meeting, the Naperville City Council honored two residents for their work raising funds to repair yards of those impacted by the June 2021 tornado in Naperville.

The dais recognized Kristy Kennedy and Kelly Dougherty, neighbors who teamed up to launch Naperville Tornado Relief.

“I assumed that insurance, nonprofits, and governments swoop in and save the day,” said Kennedy. “And the truth is that disaster recovery takes a long time and it’s difficult. We learned that disasters happen locally, and the recovery happens locally.”

Relief for tornado victims

Landscaper showing nails and other small debris stuck in yards (August 2023)

Landscaper showing nails and other small debris stuck in yards (August 2023)

Kennedy and Dougherty live in the Cinnamon Creek subdivision, which was in the path of the EF-3 tornado that swept through Naperville back in June 2021.

The tornado left more than 60 yards filled with small debris like glass, rocks, and nails. The cleanup work needed for those particles was not covered by most insurance policies. So in October 2022, Naperville Tornado Relief set a goal of raising $1.5 million to pay for the removal of yards and installation of new topsoil and grass seed for each home.

The organization found support from the Naperville nonprofit MP Foundation, as well as local lawmaker, state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray. She took their cause to the Illinois General Assembly, which in January 2023 provided a $1 million grant.

A few months later, the Naperville City Council voted to pitch in the remaining $500,000 needed for the cleanup.

Yard work began in August 2023, and was completed in the fall.

“We’re delighted that we were able to put this program together to make yards safe for children and for families to enjoy,” said Dougherty.

Tornado victim speaks at council

Area resident Katie Long-Piper spoke during public forum, thanking the dais for their cooperation with Naperville Tornado Relief.

“Kristy Kennedy and Kelly Dougherty are what community means because they stepped in when nobody else knew what to do, and they kept fighting for us,” said Long-Piper.

Photo courtesy: City of Naperville

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