• Bicyclists pass by damaged homes on Nutmeg Lane in Naperville on Monday, June 21 following an overnight tornado that ripped through the subdivision.

      Bicyclists pass by damaged homes on Nutmeg Lane in Naperville on Monday, June 21 following an overnight tornado that ripped through the subdivision. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Valade

    Paul Valade

 
 
Updated 1/8/2022 3:19 PM

Seeing the images of the recent tornadoes in southern Illinois and Kentucky brought back memories of of June 2021.

A tornado had touched down in Naperville and Woodridge causing damage to 120 homes in Naperville alone. Though the June tornado that hit the Chicago suburbs was not as severe, it still caused significant damage. Six months later, residents are still reeling with slow recovery.

 

Many homes are untouched and vacant. Residents say it's a process working with insurance companies and contractors, getting permits and supply chain delays.

I remember the June tornado like it was yesterday. The majority of the fire calls were concentrated in a Naperville neighborhood south of 75th street.

I planned to be in DuPage County at first light and started my 50-mile drive around 3:45 a.m. Once on the scene, I recorded a video update from the fire chief. This info was helpful for our early web posts.

There was plenty to photograph around the fire department staging area. I emailed a few cell phone photos to update our website. I made it back to my car to work on my photos and the chief's video.

Photos from my first trip into the subdivision were sent by 7:30 a.m. My next task was to get drone photos. Remnants of the storm lingered as the winds were strong.

There were other elements to be mindful of, including hovering news station helicopters and neighbors milling about. But the drone images were moving and storytelling. The images of the debris field were intense and were an important addition to our next web update.

I spent the next few hours photographing residents, press conferences and roofing companies laying tarps. The next few days included following up with photos and videos about how the tornado impacted many residents and businesses. I wish the home and business owners the best of luck as they continue to recover from the June storm.

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