Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois, Tornado Debris Found up to 80 miles away

An EF4 tornado last Thursday ripped through the towns of Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois, destroying homes and businesses. The tornado left a 30 miles long path in 41 minutes. Two people were killed. Debris was lofted as far as 80 miles away, as far as southeast Wisconsin.

A Facebook page called Fairdale Illinois Tornado Facebook page (link at bottom) was created to help reunite photos and other personal items found with their owners. The page now has more than 3,932 likes.


Among the possessions on the page was the sign for the Grubsteakers Family Restaurant in north Rochelle, which was demolished by the tornado. The sign was found in a farmer’s field in Harvard, Illinois, 49 miles to the northeast of where the tornado hit. A photo was recovered in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin about 60 miles northeast of the tornado path. A photo of a check was also found 80 miles away in Racine, Wisconsin. Also in Racine a family photo was found.


Other items found were a children’s book and a photo that was identified of Mr. and Mrs. Clem Shultz of Fairdale, taken 25 years ago. Interesting enough, Geraldine Shultz was one of the two people killed in the tornado. But the photo was returned to Mr. Shultz, her husband.


To give some perspective on this, large, violent tornados (EF4 and EF5s) have often lifted debris hundreds of feet in the air, and in the case of this tornado “Tornadoes have been reported to carry an object at least as heavy as 83 tons, in the case of a railroad car,” said Dr. Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert. Since April 27, 2011, a total of 44 items have been found to have traveled at least 135 miles from their original source because of a tornado. A mattress was once blown 40 miles from Worcester Massachusetts, into Massachusetts Bay on June 9, 1953.


Link to the Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Found-Items-from-the-Fairdale-Illinois-Tornado/1438568889774105

To see the sign and some photos- http://www.weather.com/storms/tornado/news/fairdale-rochelle-illinois-tornado-debris-found

One thought on “Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois, Tornado Debris Found up to 80 miles away

  1. I really like this interesting perspective on the aftermath of tornadoes. Of course loss of life is devastating, but the loss of possessions can have an emotionally taxing effect as well. Pictures an tokens from ones life can be very sentimental and important to retrieve. I am in Sacred Spaces with Dr. Finlayson this semester and we have talked a great deal about the geography of emotion. It would be interesting to map the possessions that were blown away, where they came from vs. where they went, and study the emotions associated with the owners of the items that were lost. Geography can sometimes have a surprising place in the study of feelings and I think this would make a very interesting topic to study further.

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