Coal City tornado cleanup continues as potentially severe weather looms

COAL CITY, Ill. (WLS) -- Tornado cleanup is underway in Coal City as residents brace for another round of storms that could become severe.

"I can't wait for it to be gone because I just get tired of looking at it," Ken Spiezo said of what's left of the home he built and raised three daughters in.

Spiezo's Coal City home was destroyed Monday night by a tornado. Family members helped clear debris off the foundation and searched for valuables.

"Found a lot of jewelry. We had a guy come in with a detector. He found part of a ring, class ring. Still missing wedding band yet. It was three pieces to a wedding band and they found part of it," Spiezo said.

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While residents continue to look for personal items, insurance agents, restoration companies and Coal City crews saturate the damaged neighborhoods. They all hope to beat the clock before more bad weather moves in Wednesday night.

"I'm ready to go. Let's get it cleaned up. Let's move forward. I really want to get back in the neighborhood," Ann Gill said. Gill's home was also destroyed. She said she found the items that mean the most to her: gifts from her late aunt.

"Her picture. The ring she gave, earrings that she gave me, and then an ornament," she said. "Everything will be fine."

Coal City is welcoming volunteers on Friday, June 26 at 9 a.m. Anyone interested in helping can sign up at the Diamond Banquet Hall at 55 S. Daly in Diamond. Those under 18 will require adult supervision, but no gear is needed. You'll need to sign a waiver, and then you'll be given a work assignment.

Anyone who wants to help can also call (815) 518-3047. The tornado call center will put volunteers in contact with residents who need help. All will need photos ID.

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On Tuesday night, ABC7 reported how Jeanine Pierard lost everything in the Coal City tornado, including her engagement ring. On Wednesday, there was a surprise from Frank M. Beltrane, Jr., of Frank Michael Jewelers in Chicago.

"I'd like to donate a ring to get that back in motion for you," Beltrane Jr. said.

"Oh my God, seriously?! From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much," Pierard said. "People who don't know you, people who would have never met you, they're here or they're calling and they're donating."


Coal City is at the critical point where storm-damaged homes are covered in tarps, streets are cleared, storm drains unclogged and debris is piled up curbside, waiting for pickup. More rain is neither needed nor welcomed.

"I think we have an organizational structure in place. If the weather cooperates we can get a lot done in the next few days," Coal City Mayor Terry Halliday said.

Flooding is the concern. A normal rain wouldn't be a horrible setback, but a monsoon would definitely complicate things.

"We've got all the debris piled up. Everybody worked very hard yesterday to get it done. To have the wind come in and blow it all apart would be real discouraging," Lance Copes, Coal City resident, said.

Nearby, the Kankakee River is running high and fast. It's dropped roughly a foot from its flood stage high mark on Tuesday, but officials are keeping an eye on it.

"We have to take the river upriver from this area and watch that and hope that it doesn't create any problems for us," Will County Emergency Management Director Harold Damron said.

There's been no need for evacuation. Much of what absorbs Kankakee River high water is parkland. The regular residents there aren't put out by the rain or a rapid current, but the state DNR has told everyone that no watercraft is allowed on the river until levels recede.

"And especially if you're not very familiar, you come down here once or twice a year, you're not familiar with the danger it can present," Damron said.

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