Tornado Aftermath for Illinois Farmers

April 14, 2015

Tornado Aftermath for Illinois Farmers

Last Thursday, an EF4 tornado ripped through 20 miles of my community in northern Illinois. My farm and family were lucky enough to receive very little damage. Many of our friends and neighbors, however, were not so lucky. As you can see in the picture below, the path of the tornado left the town of Fairdale devastated, but stayed on an otherwise rural path tearing through farms and fields.

So, what does the aftermath of this storm look like for those farmers?

First and foremost, we help our friends and neighbors any way we can to rebuild our community. If a farmer wasn't directly affected by the tornado themselves, you can bet they have every family member and piece of equipment they own at a neighbors house helping to sort through the rubble. This morning, for example, the town of Fairdale is trying to get some of the rubble hauled away so they can continue to sort through what is left of their homes. Every truck and tractor driver helping in Fairdale this morning is a farmer from our community. 

Next, we have to think about planting. As farmers, we are pretty used to Mother Nature running the show, but this year she threw us quite a curve ball. Over the past few weeks, most farmers have been preparing their equipment to begin planting season. If your field was anywhere near that tornado, though, you have some pretty serious clean-up to do before that field is safe for your equipment to be driving through.

The biggest issue is that so much of the debris is large pieces of metal and tin from the buildings that were destroyed. We are also seeing fence posts that are stuck into the ground so far you will need a tractor to pull them out. It is likely that we will be finding debris from this storm for the next 3-5 years, but we need to do the best job we can getting it cleaned up before we can plant anything this year.

 The sense of community in a small town is always great, but after an event like this, it is even greater. Thank you to everyone who has come forward so far to help however possible- every little bit is appreciated. Even though the news crews are packing up their vans and moving on to other stories, our work here in northern Illinois isn't anywhere close to being done. Hopefully, Mother Nature gives us a little break and we are able to salvage what we can and get our crops into the ground for a successful growing season.

Trent Sanderson

Trent Sanderson Clare, IL

Trent farms with his family in northern Illinois  He also enjoys learning and educating other farmers about the environmental benefits of cover crops. He lives near the farm with his wife, Elizabeth, who is expecting their first child.

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