stormBy Doug Schroder


FAIRDALE – Just a stone’s throw away from Monroe Center, IL, along Rt. 72, sits the village of Fairdale. Many have heard of the village now, as a major tornado nearly demolished the entire town on the evening of Thursday, April 9, during a storm that hit. It was immediate that area residents responded to the tragedy, as evidence from Monroe Center resident Angela Ahrens showed. After finding and contacting Angela through Facebook, she gave this account after the tornado had passed. Angela and her husband made sure their kids were okay and then hopped in a vehicle to go to Fairdale. Upon arriving they noticed the complete destruction as best they could in the night darkness. The air was filled with the smell of propane, as many of the tanks that residents had for heating were ruptured and leaking. At that point survivors were just wandering around, unsure what to do. Emergency crews would arrive shortly to begin the monumental task ahead of them.

A phone call to Stillman Valley Superintendent PJ Caposey on Friday, April 10, yielded the results that Stillman Student Council was already arranging to collect items for relief of the victims. PJ noted that both the Rochelle and Kirkland School Districts were also involved in efforts to collect items to help the victims.

On Saturday, April 11, I attempted to go to Fairdale. It took three diversions in traffic before I was finally directed to the Kirkland Fire Department, which was established as the staging area for media and accepting donations.

Upon arriving I found a place to park and found the nearest officer to find out what was going on. I was instructed that a media bus would be leaving at 6 p.m. for a Kirkland Fire Chief-led tour of Fairdale. It was just 3 p.m. What was I going to do for three hours?

Not wanting to just stand around for that time I inquired from the officer what I could do to help. He was somewhat overwhelmed with the question as there were so many things going on. He suggested I go over to the Red Cross sign-in area and see if that helps. It did. I signed up as a volunteer and separated household cleaning detergents into different boxes and helped some other volunteers unload a vehicle from Genoa filled with donations.

Luckily for me the media bus time eventually got moved up to 4:45 p.m. I ended up volunteering for 1.25 hrs before the bus left.

Upon arriving in Fairdale it felt like I was on a movie set. It didn’t seem real that Mother Nature could have such force, such massive force. The destruction was incredible. To see video of Fairdale after the tornado go to the Win-Du-Pec Gazette Facebook page.

Judging from the destruction, it was lucky that only two people perished in this tragedy. Judging from the response I saw, the outpouring of donations and help only shows the love many Americans have for each other.

It should be noted that Erica Carter, a native of Pecatonica, had been living in Fairdale for the past year-and-a-half. She and her fiancé Cody Jacobson lost everything. Cody is a lifelong resident of the town. A page has been set up to accept donations on their behalf. To donate go to

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