A Tornado Tears Through Chicago on June 20, 2021

Midwest  | June 22, 2021
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Residents walk through debris created from a tornado in Illinois on June 20, 2021. Photo/Yue Ma

Written by Yue Ma and Pheel Wang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun

In the evening of Sunday, June 20, 2021 a tornado ripped through the Chicago metra area. It was the first major tornado event since 2015.

A car overturned. Photo/Yue Ma

The tornado’s first touchdown was confirmed at about 11:10 PM, near Route 53 and 75th Street in Woodridge, IL according to the National Weather Service. Packing winds of up to 135 mph, the weather event also hit portions of Naperville, Downers Grove, Darien and Burr Ridge. The tornado smashed cars, ripped roofs off of homes, downed power lines, sheared off garage doors, uprooted large trees, and spewed remaining debris thousands of feet into the air. As a result, nearly 130 homes sustained damage, six people were injured and one other was critically injured. Luckily, there were no fatalities.

Trees, uprooted. Photo/Yue Ma
The facade of a home, entirely gone. Photo/Yue Ma

Edging towards Darien, it impacted Tzu Chi’s Midwest Regional Office there. At 11 PM, the power went out at the Jing Si Hall and did not return till 2 PM the next day. In the streets, heavy machinery and vehicles could be seen everywhere, rushing to repair all the damage the tornado had left in its wake.

An aerial shot of a home razed entirely to the ground. Photo/Yue Ma

Naperville, specifically the area between Ranchview Community & 75th, is one of the hardest hit areas. It’s a community populated with many Chinese-American residents. In one section of damaged homes, one was razed entirely to the ground, leaving only the floor behind. Many nearby residents came by to help clear debris.

A news crew films on location in Illinois. Photo/Yue Ma

Local television stations, too, arrived on the scene, reporting on an area where two seniors lived and had hidden in the basement for safety. Fortunately, they were not injured and were assisted by firefighters.

Tzu Chi volunteer Chong Hsieh steps out for a street assessment of the damage. Photo/Yue Ma

Tzu Chi volunteers Mark Zaremski and his wife Jing Zhang live about two minutes from Tzu Chi Midwest’s Jing Si Hall. After the tornado struck, their well-maintained yard had become a mess, filled with fallen trees. Though there was no significant damage, there was much wreckage for them to clear out.

We are thankful that this incident caused no loss of life, but send our sincerest wishes for those affected to recover from this situation as soon as possible.

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