Jun 22, 2021

Tornado in Naperville



A tornado destroyed and damaged homes in Naperville and Woodridge. The residents are in our thoughts and prayers.  The tornado also touched down in Gage Park in Chicago. 

There are a number of MPHS alumni living in these communities. Fortunately it appears that there were no deaths.



Oak Lawn Tornado 1967

Friday April 21, 1967 the Oak Lawn Roller Rink was destroyed by a tornado.

"The roar was deafening like the end of the world howling Death banshee, and instantly we became limp rag dolls suspended in a slow motion 300 mph black whirlwind with particles slashing and cutting our entire bodies like hundreds of razor blades. I could feel an intense pressure trying to crush me in a sort of vacuum as I was spinning in a blender of death. Things were bashing my body as they exploded at tremendous speeds. I could feel my body being wrung like a dishrag and then I felt a heavy blow to the right side of my head and I was out."

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Palos Hills - Oak Lawn - Chicago

Aerial view of Tornado damage in Oak Lawn
At 5:30 P.M., another strong, later F4-estimated, tornado touched down near Palos Hills. Near the beginning of its path, the tornado downed multiple trees and two high transmission electrical towers. It strengthened and in the space of six minutes, tore a 16.2-mile (65 mph ground speed) swath of destruction through Oak LawnHometownEvergreen Park, and devastated the south side of Chicago before moving offshore to Lake Michigan as people were stuck in traffic during Friday rush hour. Many of the deaths occurred at traffic lights, where vehicles were thrown by the tornado. For that reason, this tornado ended up being the deadliest in the outbreak. Thirty-three people were killed and 1000 were injured, including 16 deaths alone at the intersection of Southwest Highway and W. 95th St. (US-12/20) in Oak Lawn.


This discussion took place on our MPHS Facebook Group. You can join and participate.


We also have several other Facebook pages and groups.  You can find them in the left column of this blog.


Tough deal for Naperville and the tornado in June 2021.   Fortunately there were no deaths - to date. Glad for our MPHS friends who live in the area and hope they did not suffer damage. Bob Stevenson is OK.


I worked as a consultant for FEMA for one year, leading the redevelopment of the downtown after it was hit by a tornado.  Nine people were killed. Most of them heard the sirens and left their mobile homes to go to a massive old 3 story brick building, where they went to the basement for safety.  But the building collapsed. Their mobile homes.

Illinois Chapter Leads Tornado Recovery Plan Charrette

By Grace Bazylewski and Craig Harlan Hullinger, AICP

The Village of North Utica, Illinois was hit by a tornado on April 20, 2004, that killed nine people and destroyed the north end of the historic village. The Village Hall, Township Hall, Ambulance Building, and 56 other homes and structures were destroyed.

The village, FEMA, and other governments and citizens produced the Utica United Recovery Plan, a document that called for the expenditure of about $20 million dollars to restore the town and to construct a number of improvements to the community. Some of the major improvements called for were the rerouting of a state highway through the downtown, the removal of the downtown from a floodplain, the enhancement of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal, improvements to the local economy and tourism, and the reconstruction and beautification of the historic town.

The Pro Bono Committee of the American Planning Association's Illinois Chapter led a planning charrette to assist the citizens in developing the plan. The committee has helped numerous communities over the last eight years on a variety of issues and planning programs. A "charrette" is a design session held over a short time period and designed to produce quick results. Assisted by the Illinois Association of Landscape Architects, the Pro Bono Committee led a five-hour charrette on September 25, 2004.

The charrette was a success.

About 110 people attended the event that began at the fire station directly across from the area destroyed by the tornado. Mayor Fred Esmond introduced the participants, who gave a short introduction to the town, the disaster, and the recovery plan. Smaller groups were created for walking tours of the town, then those groups were broken down into 10-person teams charged with researching and expanding the recovery plan findings and recommendations.

The findings of each group were presented to the larger group at the end of the session. These findings will be incorporated into the downtown improvement plan, tourism plan, and economic development strategy currently under development by the North Central Illinois Council of Governments. Grants have been or will be provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Economic Develoment Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Charette also served as the initial public participation portion of the planning program. Work of the teams included downtown improvement plan physical improvements, facade improvement recommendations, economic development strategy, tourism development marketing work, park improvements, etc. Interesting recommendations included the proposed development of the Illini Native American Village, riverfront parks, a marina, the development of a quarry into a lake, and numerous other positive ideas and proposals for the community.

Long term success and implementation of the projects identified in the charrette depend on the local participants. Local government and individuals must now sort out proposals and decide which ones to implement. Local leaders will have to take ownership of the plan, and develop a consensus to successfully implement it.
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The recent tornado in Naperville made me think about a major storm that hit us back in the day.


A typhoon ripped apart Hill 327 near Danang in Vietnam in October 1970. All of the buildings and much of our equipment was destroyed. We hid out in bunkers and metal vans during the storm. Most of the valley below was flooded. 

The storm actually dropped down below Typhoon strength by the time it hit DaNang, but the winds were very high on top of Hill 327. And I love the word typhoon.

We knew the storm was coming. We sent most of the troops off the Hill down to low ground and tried to windproof or take down our equipment.  The rest of us wore our helmets and flack jackets and got into bunkers. Three of my Marines and I got into a metal radio van. 

We of course had to open the door and watch the storm coming. Young and invulnerable. Very impressive. The winds built up and built up.

WHAM!  The roof of the building connected to our van blew off. We shut the door for a minute, then of course looked out again. Things were flying through the air. A metal stake impaled itself on a telephone pole.

When the eye of the storm moved in we walked out and surveyed the damage. The air had a very weird feel, kind of yellow and still and felt odd. We could see the buildings on the Hill were all ruined.

After ten minutes or so the storm built up again and we retreated back to the van. After it was over we worked fast to get our systems back online. All the air control and helo and fixed wing support for the infantry went through our radios, and until we got them fixed the infantry could not get air support.

The storm destroyed every building. After the storm we moved the troops down to the flat land below. We just kept a skeleton crew working the systems commuting to the Hill, and a small security force guarding the perimeter. The commute up and down the Hill took 45 minutes on a truck, knocking your teeth around.

I would not put up with that commute so I continued to live on the Hill.  I found a partially destroyed hootch that still had some of its roof and moved in. It was at a crazy angle so I slept on about a 30 degree angle. I would just go down to the flat land every week or so to get cleaned up and get clean clothes and eat a decent meal - C-Rats and water on the Hill.

I was in my ruined hootch when two AK-47 rounds snapped by very close. I rolled on the floor with my rifle and pistol ready for the attack, but no attack came. Don't know who was shooting or where they came from.

The big storm flooded enormous expanses of the ground below - Places that were normally dry land looked like lakes. NVA who had been able to hide in below ground tunnels had to come out to high ground. The Korean Marines tooks this opportunity to kill many NVA, flying to hilltops for assaults.

Life was a bit lonely on the Hill, with very few people around. Nothing to read or listen, or watch, except the great view. A time to think. Living like hermit.

I had a panormana view of the surrounding area. At night you could watch firefights in the valley. The tracer rounds looked like fast fireflies.  Often the rounds were in one directrion only, meaning the Marines were shooting with no one returning fire. When you say red tracers flying in one direction and green in another direction you were watching a real firefight.

Puff the Magic Dragon would then often show up. This was a slow transport aircraft with mini guns.  When it fired there was a stream of tracer rounds going to the ground, with a sound that was continuous. Incredible firepower. 

We had four outlying units, and I visited them frequently. I would catch a helicopter in the morning and run up to Birmingham Fire Support Base and Quang Tri, checking on my troops and making sure they had what they needed. Then the Helo would come back to DaNang.

In the afternoon I would catch a Helo to An Hoa and Chu Lai, and check up on our Marines there. Beautiful flights.  All the doors and windows were out on the Helicopters so you could shoot out.  It was cool with the wind rushing.

Some of the pilots would fly very high, and some very low. The low flights were the most exciting. They would run just above the trees and telephone poles. The ride always seemed very fast when you were low. Some photos below.

Jun 5, 2021

Mustangs - Baseball Chicago Champions

 Morgan Park Mustangs Honored With Parade, Pep Rally After Winning City High School Baseball Championship

The Mustangs won the 2021 championship Saturday, defeating rival Simeon in a two-day, rain-delayed thriller. Thursday, the Far South Side community celebrated.

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