Coal City tornado victims moving home in time for holidays

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It has been five months since tornadoes devastated several communities about an hour southwest of Chicago, and one family is moving home just in time for the holiday. (WLS)

It has been five months since tornadoes devastated several communities about an hour southwest of Chicago, and one family is moving home just in time for the holiday.

Its path was three-quarters-of-a-mile wide. Its wind gusts were up to 165 miles per hour. The EF-3 tornado that tore through Coal City last June splintered homes and changed lives.

"When it came, the pressure just built in your ears and you could just feel it," said Pat Halloran. "Then it just rumbled across the roof. Lasted probably only 15 or 20 seconds, then it was past."

When Halloran first came back to assess the damage to his property, an exterior wall had been ripped away and windows blown in. As he recalls now, those first moments were overwhelming.

"It wasn't until my neighbor Mitch kind of took the first piece of debris out to the road that we even kind of got in that mode of, 'Hey, we've got to try to start cleaning this up,'" Halloran said.

The family salvaged what they could.

"I'm not an overly religious person or anything, but it was kind of weird to look around and everything that was untouched in my house, those were all religious things," Dawn Halloran said.

The clean-up is now complete. The Hallorans are unpacking just in time for the holidays.

Looking at it now, you'd never know their home was torn apart, but the devastation can be seen in other houses in the neighborhood that are still being rebuilt.

"I feel bad still seeing blue tarps in town," Pat Halloran said. "Even close to the house here where the tarps are ripped and there's further damage happening to the house."

One Coal City subdivision is hardly a ghost town, but the Hallorans are among a fortunate few.

"I hate it," said Dawn Halloran. "I don't like that everybody is not here waving at you across the street when you come outside."

"People are still putting their lives back together and I think we'll all be stronger in the end for it, probably.

The Hallorans have been lucky because they had good insurance and their home, despite the damage, was still structurally sound. They look forward to welcoming their neighbors home in the coming months.
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