Destruction and Recovery

November 25, 2013

Sarah Hanelt, ‘15


Carrie and Paul Kroenke witnessed the devastation of the November 17 tornado that ravaged the Washington, Illinois community from a front row view.  The home of Carrie, Administrative Support Staff for the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, and Paul, Manager of the Bradley Bookstore, sustained major damage in the storm.  Their sons Alex ’14 and Andrew ’16 were on campus during the storm.

The 190 mph category F4 tornado that hit Washington Sunday morning was described as a “surreal experience.”   Kroenke was home when the weather sirens went off and a strange rumble that sounded like a train became noticeable. She looked out her window to see a tornado racing in the direct path of her home. The Kroenkes took cover in the basement, the lights went out, they could feel the wind from the storm, and suddenly there was debris everywhere.

They emerged from their basement to the total devastation of the neighborhood.   The Kroenke’s home was heavily damaged with missing walls and roof but it was still standing.  Homes next door and across the street were totally destroyed.  The Kroenke’s basement became a “safe haven” for neighbors, according to Carrie, because her house was primarily intact. Carrie stated, “People really came together, helping each other get everything they needed, digging through the rubble to find shoes, clothes, blankets and bottled water.”

A special treat for the shaken families was the immediate arrival of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs, a very special group of dogs trained to provide affection and support to people who are affected by a tragedy.   These beautiful Golden Retriever dogs have traveled from Sandy Hook to Boston offering love and support to those in need. Kroenke stated, “The dogs have helped make the residents feel more comfortable”.

The Washington community is really sticking together in this trying time. Carrie stated it best, “It is a blessing my family, neighbors and friends are safe. It could have been a lot worse. Stuff can be replace, people can’t.”

Carrie and Paul are one of the many Bradley families directly affected by this destructive tornado. 

As President Joanne Glasser stated so eloquently in her weekly message, “This has been an emotional and challenging week, as many in the Bradley community deal firsthand with the devastation wrought by the tornadoes that tore through our region Sunday. Several of our colleagues and friends found their homes severely damaged or destroyed. Together as a campus, we acknowledge these many losses while providing strength and encouragement on the long road to recovery ahead for central Illinois.

As we prepare for next week’s holiday, let this tragedy spur us into greater thanksgiving for our gifts of family and fellowship. Indeed, if any good has come from these great losses, it’s been in the community’s outpouring of fellowship and support for those in need. These acts of kindness -- in great abundance on our own campus – are both humbling and inspiring. Bradley is extremely fortunate to have students, alumni, faculty and staff of the highest character and the most generous of hearts. I thank you all for your support of the hundreds of individuals in need in our community, particularly those right here at home.”

Visit for up-to-date information on ways you can help in campus-organized disaster relief efforts, plus links to disaster assistance information on the web and more.