For the first time in over a decade, the National Weather Service declared a tornado touchdown in Lake County on Aug. 2.
The category EF-1 tornado touched down at approximately 8:38 p.m. and maintained on the ground for 13 minutes, according to WGN Chicago Weather Center. Many local businesses were affected, including neighboring school, Grayslake Central. As a result of the storm, many were left without power and damage to their homes the following day.
The storm started in Round Lake and pushed toward Wildwood with winds moving at 90 mph. Many local businesses sustained minor damage, while others were not as lucky. The Pizza Place, owned by Round Lake resident Jean McCue, was placed directly in the tornado’s path. What was once a family owned pizza restaurant now stands as a mere foundation of a building with dilapidated walls. The area was without any sirens.
“I remember my dad getting a call from my grandma. My family and I then went over there right away,” said senior Meghan McCue. “A coworker told me she didn’t see it coming. My grandma was in her car when it happened because she saw the umbrella that we lost from the strong winds. It happened so fast.”
McCue recalls the night of the storm, stating how security camera footage captured the moment; one of the restaurant signs was picked up and found lying in a driveway next to Central, more than three miles away.
“On one of the security cameras, you can see a customer pick up one the fallen ceiling tiles from over his head and place it on the counter,” she said. “Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.”
Though the restaurant was impacted, McCue’s neighboring home saw no effects of the storm, aside from broken trees. Every night, she says she still looks out her kitchen window to make sure the restaurant is closing on time.
“We were very lucky that only one got it,” she said. “There was a plan somewhere; there really was. That’s why I have the attitude I have.”
Despite the amount of time it will take to rebuild the restaurant, McCue is calm and optimistic about the process.
“The outpouring of support is just wonderful,” McCue said. “People stop by and ask ‘is there anything I can do?’”
Many businesses helped with the tornado relief following the storm, including BBQ’d Productions, located in Ingleside. Though the restaurant was not hit, the staff recognized the community’s concerns after the storm and organized a relief tent for those in need of supplies.
“I knew this disaster would be too little for the community to get any help,” said owner Kris Schoenberger. “We had to help so our community would know someone was there for them.”