Early this morning, Drew and I were awoken by a call from Drew’s mom telling us that a tornado had run through our hometown of Harrisburg, Illinois. We both immediately started calling everyone we knew, checking to make sure that they were safe, alive, and well. My mom and sisters were asleep and didn’t even know what had happened, and luckily were all okay and the damage was no where near them. My grandpa was fine as well. My grandma lives a block away from the tornado’s path, and luckily was also okay and her home wasn’t damaged. Everyone in Drew’s family was okay, but two of his brothers lived right in the path of the destruction and both of their houses were badly damaged.
This aerial view of part of town shows where the tornado went through. The red boxes are over both of Drew’s brothers houses. They were just out of the tornado’s main path. We are all so lucky that they are alive and well.
As the day progressed, we learned more about the disaster. The tornado was an EF4, which is the second strongest tornado on the Fujita scale. Winds were supposedly up to 170 miles an hour. The tornado went through right before 5 am, only minutes from when the tornado sirens went off. Many people were still asleep in their homes and weren’t aware of what was going on. The structural damage from all the pictures I’ve seen and accounts from people is horrific. It tore through homes, businesses, shopping centers, and even through part of the hospital. Over 30o homes were damaged.
There have been hundreds of injuries and 6 confirmed deaths. I knew one girl that died today. She was only a year older than me and we went to high school together. One of my best friends was really close friends with her. I was on several church trips with her as well. She was incredibly sweet, a nurse, a strong Christian, and a little kids Sunday school teacher. The tornado ripped right through her apartment. I can’t believe such a sweet soul was taken today, but I know she is in a much better place.
Hearing of her death, hearing of friends and family who lost their homes, and seeing the destruction of my tiny hometown all over national news has been pretty unreal and emotional. It is hard to be so far away during times like these. I so wish I could be there right now to help out. I’m proud of my town for grouping together in times of need and being selfless, giving, and full of kindness and willing to help everyone else out. Times like these really put the important things in life into perspective.
I pray for strength for all the hurting families and those that have lots of work ahead of them to re-build their homes and businesses. I also give praise for all those that are alive and well and am so happy that the damage wasn’t even worse.
I ask for your thoughts and prayers for my hometown and all that it has lost today.
Photo from Harrisburg’s Daily Register