Red Cross is the “One Constant Through This Entire Disaster”

Chris Thick and Jackie Jordan are heroes. At first they tried to outrun the storm about to strike Fairdale April 9 with their two childrenJackie-Chris-Charlie
in the car, but decided to turn around when the top of a house blew across the road.

They returned home to seek refuge and brought a handful of dazed neighbors inside with them. With the family safe for the moment when the fierce winds passed, Chris joined others in the search and rescue for other neighbors who needed help and were injured.

The couple has two sons Oliver, 2, and Ryder, 1. The boys are exactly one year apart and share the same birthday – April 10; the day after the tornado hit. So there wasn’t much of a celebration for them this year.

Gov Rauner visits fairdale 4.17.15Governor Bruce Rauner visited Chris and Jackie and their boys at their home on April 17. “It’s been a privilege for me just to come and offer condolences and emotional support and financial support, in the future, to the families here, as we’ve walked through the community,” Rauner said.

Chris and Jackie are also grateful to Red Cross volunteer Charlie Sharpe from nearby Sycamore. The couple first met Charlie on White Street when the Red Cross was handing out supplies. They’ve run into Charlie several more times.

Charlie was also Chris and Jackie’s ambassador at the tornado survivor center at First Lutheran Church, helping them navigate the paperwork and casework process.

The couple said Charlie and the Red Cross are the one thing that’s been constant through this entire disaster. “We’ve had more help than we ever thought possible,” said Jackie. “It’s just amazing there’s been a lot of help for just this little town.”

Story and Photos by:

Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Meet the Families of Fairdale: Tornado Survivors

Davis Family Fairdale_4.15.15

The small, tight-knit community of Fairdale is surrounded by cornfields in Northwest Illinois. On April 9, the town of about 150 people took a direct hit by a tornado that leveled many homes.

The families that call Fairdale home are strong and determined to recover. Through the help of the American Red Cross and other community and government agencies, they are getting a good start.

Janet and John Davis live with Janet’s adult daughter, Bridgette Wittenholt in Fairdale. They listened to weather warnings on Bridgette’s cell phone and took cover in the basement when the storm hit. They stayed there for two hours until they felt it was safe to come out.

Even through all three are disabled, they wanted to go home after staying several days with family. They were able to once the electricity was turned back on. The Red Cross has been delivering meals to them.

John is a retired construction worker and a Vietnam vet. Janet is a big Chicago Bears fan, and lived in the Fairdale home for 44 years. Bridgette said when the storm hit, the glass breaking was something she would never forget.Beverly Richardson Fairdale_4.15.15

Their neighbor, Beverly Richardson lived in her Fairdale home for 41 years. Her home was sliced in two; the upstairs was ripped off and landed on the ground next to her living room. Beverly salvaged a few items she recognized – a green dish, a few tools, and the cast-iron “Welcome” sign that used to hang on her front door.

Across the street, Charlene and Ray Roach’s home is still standing, although the inside is in shambles. They have great pride in their home, which they built in 1959. Ray painted the green shutters and Charlene sewed the curtains. All the little details about what makes it their home. Now, glass litters the living room and kitchen from the windows blown out, although remarkably her entire glassware collection remains intact.

The Roaches are fortunate as many of their neighbors’ homes were destroyed. Charlene said,” We’re survivors.”

The Red Cross is helping all families who need support and identifying resources for their long-term recovery needs. It’s a long road to recovery, but the Red Cross is here to help.

Story and photos by:

Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois