I haven't lived in Dwight, Illinois in about twelve years. And really, if you consider that for a time before that I stayed there only intermittently during Christmas and spring breaks, a few weekends here and there, and one summer vacation since graduating from high school, you could probably consider my time away from the town of my childhood more like fourteen years. It's a significant amount of time when I think about all that has changed in my life in those fourteen years.
In that stretch of time I've taken up residence in Urbana, Champaign, DeKalb, El Paso, Coal City, and Carbon Hill, but through all of those years I have always still considered Dwight "home". We have a large number of family members and friends still living in and around the village, and especially during the summer months we return to town often for errands, visits, family gatherings, and celebrations. The town of Dwight and its residents have shaped my life and most of my childhood memories, and it's a place that will always be near and dear to my heart regardless of how much changes in me or within the city limits.
It goes without saying, then, that the events from last weekend's tornado have shaken me. We were in town the evening that the storm blew through and as we later learned were situated safely in a basement only a couple of blocks away from where some of the most significant damage was sustained. It's the first time I've ever been directly in the line of a tornado. For years I thought it would be an exciting event of nature to be a part of, but I can tell you honestly that it's not something I need to experience again.
Loyal blog readers were directly affected by the tornado that ripped through town. TLK's mom lost the roof off her house. A few houses away, Parker & Randy lost the garage to the house they purchased only one month ago. That house also happens to have been the childhood home of The Bride, our future sister-in-law. Thankfully and mercifully, none of those we know personally sustained any injuries. My mom and I discussed tonight that we didn't realize how many we know and care about live in a small area around where the tornado made its path; Dwight's not a big town to begin with, but it's amazing how many of our loved ones have homes within three blocks of Linden Street.
The high school sustained roof damage, sports fields lost fencing, light poles and enormous trees were snapped like matchsticks, power lines littered the streets, my childhood church sustained some damage in and around the building, family friends lost sheds and bins on their family farm, the town's country club had damage to the cart garage and other areas around the golf course, a freight train was derailed west of town, and the lumber yard was destroyed. Most notably, a small trailer court park on the southwest part of town was demolished as the tornado made it's entry into town.
(photos taken from Chicago Tribune)
There is significant damage in and around my hometown. Lives have been changed; rebuilding will be exhausting and extensive. The bright side is and always has been that no one was seriously injured in the wake of this storm, and like all tragic events, the amazing generosity of the residents of this little central Illinois town quickly came to light. My heart breaks for those who are just beginning down a long road of recovery from the aftermath of the 2010 tornado, but today I am so proud today to tell people, "Yes, I'm from Dwight, Illinois".