'It sounded like a sonic boom': Naperville resident describes moments tornado hit

  • Princeton Circle resident Katie Long Piper, left, tells her sister, Pat Peraziana, right, of Naperville, about the destruction of her neighbors' home in a tornado that struck the Naperville subdivision overnight.

      Princeton Circle resident Katie Long Piper, left, tells her sister, Pat Peraziana, right, of Naperville, about the destruction of her neighbors' home in a tornado that struck the Naperville subdivision overnight. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • A Naperville home on the 1800 block of Princeton Circle was leveled overnight from a tornado.

      A Naperville home on the 1800 block of Princeton Circle was leveled overnight from a tornado. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/21/2021 5:36 PM

Katie Long Piper and her family were watching TV in their home Sunday night when they got a tornado warning alert on their phones.

They huddled in the basement, and within 30 seconds, "it sounded like a sonic boom," she said.

 

Part of her neighbors' home broke through the well windows into her basement, at which point she yelled to her family, "Hit the ground!"

When they got up, they could smell and hear the gas hissing. They took shelter at a neighbor's home nearby.

She doesn't recall how she was feeling or what she was thinking until she stepped foot outside.

"Then I just freaked out," she said. "Their house is in my backyard."

The tornado leveled the neighboring house on the 1800 block of Princeton Circle. A couple who lived there were rescued by firefighters, neighbors said. An SUV was still parked in the driveway Monday, but the house -- in the middle of two homes that had mostly roof damage -- was gone.

Long Piper knew her neighbors were home and had been sleeping in an upstairs bedroom.

"That scared me because it took a while for the fire department to get here because of all the downed trees and power lines," she said.

Her fear turned to heartache Monday morning surveying the disaster. Long Piper, her hands clenched to her chest, was comforted by her sister Pat Peraziana. Both were in tears.

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