More than 1 year after Woodridge tornado, volunteers help families make repairs to homes

Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Volunteers help families devastated by 2021 Woodridge tornado rebuild
EMBED <>More Videos

A west suburban community is still rebuilding, a year-and-a-half after a devastating tornado.

WOODRIDGE, Ill. (WLS) -- Almost a year-and-a-half after an EF-3 tornado ripped through Woodridge and the surrounding area, dozens of families remain without homes, or with major projects left to finish.

Wednesday, some of those families in Woodridge are getting some extra set of hands to continue to rebuild.

WATCH | Mom shares heartbreak after losing unborn baby during tornado

"The fact that I still have a life to live is phenomenal," tornado victim Katie Wilson said.

Wilson was struck by a tree branch that careened through her roof. The injury caused her to lose her unborn son. She's still recovering from the physical and emotional trauma of that day.

"It's amazing to think about where I've come," Wilson said. "I mean I personally didn't think I'd be able to make it this far."

A plaque in her son's honor sits near her driveway, but will move soon once volunteers from Home Depot and Woodridge Neighbors Helping Neighbors finish a memorial pond for the Wilson family.

"When they look out their window they can see something that's going to remind them of their child," volunteer Daniel Williams said. "Not only of the hardship, but also just to remember, to celebrate the life of the child that they lost."

A "Woodridge Strong" sign is still up 17 months after the devastating tornado as several dozen homeowners still wait to move back to their damaged homes and others are nearly back to normal.

"I feel exceptionally, just blessed and grateful for all of the support I have gotten," homeowner Joe Tancredi said.

In June of 2021 an EF3 tornado tore through Woodridge and surrounding suburbs nearly demolishing homes in its path. Joe Tancredi's home looked a lot different-

"A tree damaged the roof," he said. "We had to replace one of the four walls of the house because that was damaged. There was water damage the floor, all of the utilities..."

Amazingly, his family was unharmed, but their home was badly damaged.

READ MORE: Naperville residents share harrowing tornado stories

Now Home Depot volunteers who were helping right after the storm last year are back to finish the job.

"The tornado, I was here when it happened," said Shaun Edwards, a Team Depot volunteer. "I cleaned up a lot of it. Just coming back to help out, refresh with them, and get everything back to normal for them so they can live comfortable."

READ MORE: Naperville tornado victims frustrated by slow insurance, unfinished repairs 6 months later

Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham said she is grateful for the help to her residents.

"It's incredible, really the damage and the destruction, but we, by putting our hands together and helping, can make a significant difference," Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham.

After the tornado, many homeowners had trouble getting goods and services, between the pandemic and supply issues. There were also not enough contractors to hire.

It was a difficult time for homeowners to try and move on and rebuild and still is.

"We're very happy and very grateful for everybody that's helping our neighbors," Dianne O'Donnell with Neighbors Helping Neighbors said. "Some of these people have just been devastated and yet, when we have them all together they are so kind and loving to each other and that's what Woodridge is all about we take care of each other."

Over 25 families are still out of their homes in Woodridge alone. Mayor Cunningham said they may not be able to get back inside those homes until next summer.