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posted: 11/24/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: The abundant love after the storm

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  • Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comJennifer Guevara loads up a U-Haul on Thursday in Wheaton of donated items to take to the victims of the tornado in Coal City. She gathered donations after she posted on Wheaton, Illinois Parents Facebook page.

      Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comJennifer Guevara loads up a U-Haul on Thursday in Wheaton of donated items to take to the victims of the tornado in Coal City. She gathered donations after she posted on Wheaton, Illinois Parents Facebook page.

  • US Army National Guard Master Sergeant Katie Williams of Altamont, center, walks to a destroyed home of Barb and John Evans in the Devonshire Subdivision in Washington, Illinois as relatives rescue belongings after a tornado destroyed several homes on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/The Pantagraph, Steve Smedley)

      US Army National Guard Master Sergeant Katie Williams of Altamont, center, walks to a destroyed home of Barb and John Evans in the Devonshire Subdivision in Washington, Illinois as relatives rescue belongings after a tornado destroyed several homes on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/The Pantagraph, Steve Smedley)

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board

We were reminded a week ago about the power of nature.

For the most part, the suburbs were spared the worst violence of last Sunday's storms. But in a way, those of us living here were affected all the same.

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With the mighty storm system approaching, we all battened down as a precaution -- not certain where the storms might hit, preparing for the worst. For a matter of hours, the streets were empty, the stores and restaurants sat silent; we were a region transfixed.

No doubt, our safety concerns were raised by the highly visible threat to the Bears game that drew so much of the region's attention, a threat so serious that it prompted a rare delay in the action and an evacuation of the seating areas at Soldier Field.

Despite high winds, flash floods and earlier warnings that showed much of the suburbs in the storm system's path, we escaped essentially unscathed. Little in the suburbs was damaged.

Not so lucky were our neighbors to the south.

There, the damage was devastating. At least 11 tornadoes were reported, arriving menacingly with strengths up to 190 miles per hour or perhaps even more. As The Associated Press reported, "Illinois had not seen an outbreak of tornadoes this strong ... in November in the decades since the (National) Weather Service began keeping records."

The most horrific storm, centered on downstate Washington, near Peoria, grew to half a mile wide and spun on the ground for 46 miles. More than 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in that community, whole neighborhoods gutted. Some of the debris landed in our suburbs 150 miles away.

The damage was devastating. The miracle was that there was so little loss of life.

We were reminded a week ago about the power of nature.

We were reminded also about the heartwarming charity of humankind.

Everywhere, it seems, people have wanted to help out. For most of us, the citizens of Washington and other downstate towns struck by these storms are strangers we hear about in the news. And yet so many of us have responded as neighbors.

A Wheaton mother collected supplies and drove them in a U-Haul to Coal City. The Elgin Academy girls basketball team sponsored a donation drive. The Buffalo Grove police and fire departments raised donations for first responders in Washington. The Chicago Wolves collected supplies at their game Saturday and will donate ticket revenue through November.

Those are just a sample of the relief efforts. On and on the list goes -- suburbanites opening up their hearts to help those in need downstate.

Political Editor Mike Riopell understands the impact. His parents live in Washington, and their house was destroyed.

"The outpouring of support and offers to help from friends and family has been overwhelming," he wrote on Tuesday.

It's funny how a story of so much destruction can become a story of so much inspiration.

This Thursday, that spirit of good will gives us all one more thing to be thankful for.

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