HELPING FROM THE HEART: Local communities work together to recover from last week’s damaging storms


Photo By Sasha Clinnin

Tornado sirens alerted residents of various communities to seek shelter. The best places to go during severe weather are basements or rooms with no windows.

     West suburban Chicago was turned upside down on Sunday, June 20, when an EF-3 tornado blew through heavily populated areas, leaving many homes damaged and residents displaced. Communities that experienced the most damage included parts of Naperville, Woodridge and Darien. 

     The tornado left a path of destruction miles long in Naperville, leaving families in disarray. According to reporters Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow of The Washington Post, “The large, destructive tornado…carved through neighborhoods while lifting debris three miles high. The Associated Press reports the twister damaged more than 100 homes and injured at least eight people.” This destruction was prevalent in Naperville’s Ranch View neighborhood.

     While several homes in the Chicagoland area were damaged to varying degrees, one single-family home in Naperville was completely leveled. According to local news reports, neighbors immediately ran down the block to rescue anyone who might be trapped under the rubble. Indeed, the two homeowners, Arvind and Savita Patel, were found underneath piles of debris after falling asleep in their living room and waking up in their backyard, covered by the destruction.

     The Patels’ 15-year-old grandson, Shiva Patel, came to help salvage his grandparents’ personal belongings the morning following that devastating Sunday night. Taking in the ruin, Shiva told Chicago’s ABC7 Eyewitness News, “I was really sad because this home, I’ve been coming to ever since I was little…and just to have it gone like this… it’s really upsetting.” 

     Neighbors and groups of high school students came to help the Patels sift through the rubble in hopes of finding lost personal keepsakes like jewelry and family photos. 

     “This has been a tragic day, certainly, for neighborhood residents, but it could have been a lot worse,” Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said.

     As stories of heroism continued to surface following the tornado, many residents from surrounding neighborhoods quickly offered their time and resources to help anyone in need. 

     One business that has shown true dedication to helping others is Naperville’s Little Pops Pizzeria. They initiated the Slices of Hope campaign, which provides resources for those in need by matching 100 percent of the donations received. Little Pops has been delivering water, gloves and other supplies to the homeowners impacted by the tornado. They also have been delivering doughnuts and pizzas, all complimentary through Slices of Hope. This has become a tremendous support as many families are living in temporary housing, hotels or damaged homes, making meals especially appreciated.

     It is actions like these that have helped those struck by tragedy understand they can count on their community for support. From local teens to small business owners, nothing could stop the compassionate volunteers who came together to wrap their arms around those in need.