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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently write a column every other Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Fed aid for Evergreen Village, but none for Fairdale

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................May 5, 2015

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear every other Tuesday.

Returning from a vacation trip two weeks ago, the tragedy and horror of the EF4 tornado that tore through the northwestern edge of DeKalb County plus parts of Ogle County hit us.

We know people there, and I had been to the home of Clem Schultz to do a story on his typewriter repair business and also visited the home of a friend Pam Metcalf in rural Kirkland.

Now their lives are devastated by losses that are difficult to comprehend. I also read about the Powell family in the April 11 Daily Chronicle. Two of Powell’s daughters work as certified nursing assistants where I live at the Oak Crest Retirement Center.

One of them, Deena, and her two daughters were caught in the fury of the twister along with her father, Roger, and mother, Mary Powell. They escaped with minor injuries, except Mary, who suffered a concussion and was in a Rockford hospital for six days.

Deena and her two girls, Calli and Haleigh, are now staying with her sister Tiffany in Kirkland while her parents are temporarily living with Mary’s sister.

She told me the harrowing tale of escaping death by minutes when her father looked out the door and spotted the tornado just down the street. They have no warning sirens in this rural community, but they had received alerts on a cellphone. Powell grabbed their dog and the family fled down the basement steps, literally seconds before their two-story house was ripped off its foundation and torn into pieces, one part blown toward Route 72 and the top half dumped into a field. Part of the kitchen smashed into her van, totaling it.

After it became quiet for a few minutes, Deena crawled up on top of the washer to look out of the basement. At that moment a neighbor came running over to help them all out of the rubble.
Meanwhile, her sister Tiffany and family had taken refuge in their Kirkland basement and heard over Facebook that Fairdale had been flattened. She rushed out there to see what she could do. She saw neighbors already helping other neighbors dig out of the wreckage.

Deena explained how the Kirkland Fire Department, Red Cross, other county agencies and scores of volunteers rushed to help them and still are assisting where needed.

Deena Schell, at left, and daughters are staying with her sister Tiffany Simmons, at right, in Kirkland until they can figure out how to find more permanent housing. (Barry Schrader photo)

This photo, taken by Tiffany Simmons, shows the basement her parents and sister’s family crawled out from April 9 after the 7:15 p.m. twister passed. The washer (center of photo) can be seen that Deena Schell climbed onto as neighbors rushed to their aid. Additional debris was dumped into the basement before this photo was taken.

Deena's van crushed by debris (Photo by Tiffany Simmons)

One anecdote demonstrates the distance the winds carried debris. A resident of Harvard called the Kirkland school where Deena’s daughter attends to report finding her Honor Roll certificate that far away.

The Powell family was fortunate to have homeowners insurance on the house where they have lived since 1986, and State Farm already settled their claim, Deena said. She believes her parents will not try to rebuild, but relocate elsewhere. It is felt by many that the zoning and building regulations, septic system and water well requirements will make it too costly to stay. It is a blessing, however, that a long-term recovery effort, led by Bill Nicklas through the DeKalb County Community Foundation, will help those most in need.

At the same time, I find it unfair that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency have turned their backs on helping this community, yet just two years ago granted $5.6 million for the demolition of mobile homes and relocation of every resident of Evergreen Village in Sycamore.

The floodplain problem is serious, but nowhere near as devastating as the tornado that caused fatalities and total destruction of most of Fairdale and other rural homes near Kirkland.

My feeling is that our U.S. senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, along with our congressional and state delegations should have put more pressure on the appropriate federal agencies to step up. It’s our taxes that pay for FEMA, and they work for us, don’t they…?

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115