A Visit To Plainfield, 25 Years After The Tornado

(CBS) — On the 25th anniversary of the Plainfield tornado, CBS 2’s Steve Baskerville returned to see a rebuilt and thriving town.

Showing him around the rebuilt Plainfield Central High School was instructor Lisa Klaas, who was there in August 1990. The 260 mph tornado flattened parts of the old school.

“The whole roof had come down. It was piled inside the gym,” she says.

Mrs. Klaas was a volleyball coach at the time. She and other coaches likely saved the lives of many of their student athletes.

“We did the classic sit-down-with-your-back-to-the-wall, cover-your-head,” she says. “People say that it sounds like a train, and it did.”

She now uses the Plainfield tornado as the ultimate teachable moment. She created a PowerPoint slide show to teach students about tornados.

The path of the tornado was 16 miles long, from Kendall to Will counties. It destroyed 470 homes and damaged 1,000 buildings. Twenty-nine people lost their lives.

Less than a mile away, St. Mary’s Immaculate Church  — a beautiful building filled with stained glass and religious icons — itself can be considered somewhat of a resurrection.

Chopper 2 flew over the collapsed steeple back in 1990. Inside the sanctuary, debris was everywhere.  It was a congregation in shambles.

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