Tornado oddities: A glass case that didn't break, a picture frame that didn't budge

  • Clothes still hang in a closet and blankets still sit on a shelf at a home on Nutmeg Lane in Naperville after the tornado cut its swath Sunday night.

    Clothes still hang in a closet and blankets still sit on a shelf at a home on Nutmeg Lane in Naperville after the tornado cut its swath Sunday night. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • The north wall of a home on Spice Circle in Naperville was ripped away during the June 20 tornado. But just inside the room, a glass display case remains unbroken.

    The north wall of a home on Spice Circle in Naperville was ripped away during the June 20 tornado. But just inside the room, a glass display case remains unbroken. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Becky Springer, who lives on the 7800 block of Deerfield Avenue in Woodridge, said her roof was lifted up by the tornado, turned slightly then slammed back down.

    Becky Springer, who lives on the 7800 block of Deerfield Avenue in Woodridge, said her roof was lifted up by the tornado, turned slightly then slammed back down. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/26/2021 4:48 PM

The tornado peeled off the roof of Bridget Casey's home in Woodridge, chewing and spitting out insulation all over the wreckage.

But on the wall of her youngest son's bedroom -- now exposed to the sky -- a framed red sign didn't budge.

 

"Even superheroes must clean their room," it reads.

It'll take a superhero to clean up the debris, rebuild, and try to make sense of the mysteries of the June 20 tornado.

Along a 16-mile-long track from Naperville east through Willow Springs, the tornado left behind eerie, sometimes baffling scenes in damaged neighborhoods.

The tornado devastated parkway trees in Woodridge, plastering leaves to home facades, and yet other plants in front-yard gardens looked undisturbed.

It ripped away the north wall of a home on Spice Circle in Naperville, but just inside the room, a fragile glass display case and its contents didn't break.

One potential meteorological explanation: The chaotic winds of the tornado.

"Sometimes it just impacts the structure of a building in a certain way where it compromises its integrity, and then it'll lift off, say, part of the roof," National Weather Service meteorologist Jake Petr said. "But it's possible that then, not all of the strong winds actually reached further down into part of the home."

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A picture frame stayed on the wall, while the rest of the bedroom in Bridget Casey's Woodridge home was destroyed in Sunday's tornado.
A picture frame stayed on the wall, while the rest of the bedroom in Bridget Casey's Woodridge home was destroyed in Sunday's tornado. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

While other cars were still parked in driveways, the tornado carried a neighbor's blue sedan and flipped it upside down in front of Bill Kelly's Naperville home on 77th Street. A blue tarp covers a gash in his roof.

"We're slowly getting there," Kelly said of the cleanup. "But we're going to be finding glass for months."

The tornado stripped shingles from some houses, but the roof above the Woodridge home of Neal Springer and his daughter, Becky, detached and twisted. He suspected only the internal walls were still holding the roof up.

Survey teams of National Weather Service meteorologists found concentrated damage between Woodridge Drive and Basswood Lane.

Casey's home fell within that zone. Its walls collapsed. Her three sons and daughter, ages 6 to 16, survived.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Later in the week, standing near the ruins of the bedroom belonging to her son, Tobias, Casey noticed the framed sign still on the blue painted walls.

"Other things that he would have wanted to have had I couldn't even tell you where they were," she said.

• Daily Herald staff writers Lauren Rohr and Scott C. Morgan contributed to this report.

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