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Fairdale: One week later

Craig Wall

TV News has been in my blood since I was a teenager... but my first love was music and I dreamed of being a rock and roll DJ. Then reality reared its head and reminded me that perhaps I needed a more serious-minded career.
It all started when I was 17 years old on board a ship while serving in the Navy. While out at sea in the Persian Gulf, everyone was clamoring for the latest news from back home. But, with no newspaper delivery, and no internet we were all out of touch.
So a colleague and I on board the Richard E. Byrd figured out a way to take wire copy and share it with the entire ship. We propped a camera on boxes in a storage locker, hooked into the ship's closed circuit television system, and did what amounted to about a ten minute newscast each night.
Look out Walter Cronkite. After the Navy I studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) and after graduation took my first job in Salisbury, Maryland. Farming, oysters and beach traffic stories proved enough after two years, so off I went to Lexington, Kentucky.
There I was the police and courts reporter, actually walking the beat, and making such a good impression on the police chief that he wanted to hire me to be a cop. Preferring pens to guns, I declined.
After four years there I was off to Salt Lake City to be a courts and general assignment reporter. I loved the mountains for hiking, covered lots of big stories, but then landed my dream job back in the Midwest, at FOX 32, in 1998.

FOX 32 News Chicago


FAIRDALE, Ill. (FOX 32 News) –

One week after a tornado demolished much of the town of Fairdale, a lot of progress has been made in the cleanup effort.

The determination of those who live there is being encouraged by an army of volunteers.

About 150 truck-loads of rubble was hauled away to the dump. Much of the work was done by volunteers, and there are more than 16-hundred of them who have been helping out.

“All them guys I can’t believe, I shook everyone of their hands seven times you know, I told everyone of them team Rubicon is great. Them guys came in here and they really cleaned house they really helped me, my mom,” said David Richardson, who survived the tornado.

On Monday, his mother Beverly showed FOX 32 the remains of her house. Most of it has all been cleared out now. Local officials marvel at the progress, which they say it has gone much faster than expected.

“The community has just been wonderful, they’ve come out in droves and volunteers and donations and everything, and I know these people will rebuild, I know they’ll come back, they’re a tough hardy group,” said Terri D’Amato, Kirkland Town Clerk.

Tom Barone was not home when the tornado hit, but his wife was. He had a message for mother nature showcasing the resilience of the community, writing on his house: ‘she huffed & she puffed but couldn’t blow me down.’

“You got to take it with a grain of salt, my wife came out of it okay, she’s healthy considering what some of our neighbors have been through and they haven’t been as lucky, so keep your prayers with them please,” Barone said.

He wasn’t sure about his plans from here.

“So whether we rebuild here or rebuild somewhere else, we still haven’t decided on that,” he said.

There is a coordinated effort to pile similar debris together for recycling or removal. There are volunteers here from Washington, Illinois, and othes from as far away as Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Just to be able to assist in some small way, that’s either organize possessions or get rid of debris that’s on their yard, it really brings a relief to them and it’s a blessing to us to be able to bless them,” said Kayla Muth, a volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse.

Leo Cardot demonstrated his attitude on the plastic sheet that’s now the rear window of his van using black marker to write ‘we survived.’

“We all stick together and we are getting it taken care of thanks to all the volunteers; the fire department, police department, everybody. It’s a great feeling to know this is all going on the way it is, and everything is looking brighter day by day,” Cardot said.

The coordinated cleanup effort is expected to continue for another week, but for those who’ve lost so much, this is just the first step with many more to go.

Route 72, the main road through Fairdale remains closed until further notice.

Monetary donations are still being accepted through the Village of Kirkland website.