NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — Naperville was among the hardest-hit communities in the largest tornado that hit the Chicago area late Sunday night.
A night later, as CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, many rolled up their sleeves to help those who needed it most. It was not a meet-and-greet under the most favorable circumstances, but residents said if there was a silver lining, this was it – knowing there are still some good people out there.READ MORE: Community Leaders Try To Find Home For Mural Dedicated To Murdered Young Activist
“A neighbor I don’t know shows up with chainsaw and says, ‘I’m going to stay here till I run out of gas,” said Linda Heller.
Upon arriving in Naperville, Terry encountered many people shaking their heads in disbelief at the devastation – with tree limbs stacked high, and homes boarded up after being cleared out on one side of a street while homes were completely unaffected on the other side. A light pole was even left bent more than 90 degrees from its original upright position.
Indeed, the path of destruction was evident, yet the resilience of the community was overshadowing.
“I feel you get to know your community when you need them,” Heller said.
The EF-3 tornado destroyed 22 homes – completely leveling one – and damaged more than 100.
“I feel like we got lucky – because the neighborhood just across the way is total devastation,” said Steve Siannis.
There is a reason why Siannis feels lucky. His Ring doorbell camera showed just how quickly the rain moved on his patio – and within seconds, the winds started blowing everything.READ MORE: Memorial Held For Beloved Barber Gunned Down On The Job In Lawndale
“I’ve heard it probably 20 times already and it still gives me goosebumps – just listening to sounds of pure strength,” he said.
Siannis gets chills when it sinks in how close danger came to striking his family.
“As soon as I heard the sirens, I got up, looked out, woke my wife up, grabbed the kids – I don’t even think we made it to the basement before we heard the whistling and howling through the house,” he said. “Honestly everyone said it sounded like a train. It really sounded like a train coming through.”
The EF-3 winds also uprooted Leslie Hayward’s back deck and uplifted the concrete. A heavy tree that once provided shade came tumbling down.
“Kind of a shock,” she said. “But I feel so blessed – so lucky that the tree went that way.”
It crashed away from the house.
“It would have taken out the kitchen and bedrooms,” Hayward said.
Looking at the damage on her block, and knowing the reality that some families have nothing left, truly illustrates how important warning sirens are for seeking shelter.MORE NEWS: Goodman Theater Opens For The First Time In More Than A Year
“Heed the warning,” Siannis said. “Don’t take it for granted. It’s not worth it.”