Fairdale residents celebrate first rebuilds

By Mateusz Kruk

Almost 100 people gathered in Fairdale Park on Sunday to celebrate Fairdale’s ongoing efforts to rebuild the 200-person town after a tornado tore through it in April.

The festivities were held right next to where the tornado, which left two women dead, 22 injured and 34 homes destroyed, hit. The DeKalb County Board approved an ordinance in July to rezone Fairdale, an unincorporated town, to prevent residents from paying permit fees and allow the construction of homes with modern requirements.

“We’ve been really close since the tornado, and we just thought it would be a good thing to have all our family and friends and neighbors and everybody come together and talk,” said Loraine Raddatz, a member of the 10-person committee that organized the event. “We’ve always been a close-knit community, so that’s basically why we did it.”

Raddatz’s brother, Wayne Cline, 63, was an owner of a house that was completely destroyed.

“When the tornado hit, it hit the dead center of my home,” Cline said. “We didn’t even have a chance to get to the basement. They always say a tornado sounds like a train coming through, and I can vouch for that. Of course I lost everything. My wife ended up with a broken wrist, and we lost our pet dog.”

Cline lived in the two-story house with his wife, Peggy, 64, and champion beagle, Jake. Cline and Raddatz were born in the house, and Cline had lived there for 62 years.

“I got to a point where I said I’m giving up, and my sister and my wife said, ‘No you are not giving up. You are going to keep pushing and pushing, and things will get better,’ and they are,” Cline said. “Things are getting better with new friends. I just can’t say enough about these people, and with them Fairdale is going to be here a very long time.”

Cline and his family are currently living in a two bedroom apartment in Rochelle until their new house is complete. One Family One Purpose, a Christian non-profit organization, is completing the construction of the house. The foundation of the house is expected to be poured by mid-October, and construction is to be completed by the end of December.

“They want to try to get it done by Christmas,” Cline said. “I told them that if they can get it done by then, it will be the happiest Christmas that my family has ever had. The apartment is fine, but it ain’t home.”

The home of the Brown family, neighbors to the Clines, was also destroyed in the tornado. The Browns include Don, 61, wife Michelle, 62, and four dogs: Penny Lane, Abby, Frank and Jude.

Michelle was in the house with her four dogs when the tornado hit.

“The whole time I wasn’t scared. I just figured I was going to die,” Michelle said. “I didn’t want anything to propel me like a piece of wood. The whole house was blown out. All we had was the cement.”

Construction on the Browns’ house has already begun and is expected to be completed by Nov. 13.

“We are a lot closer,” Don said. “Everyone out here pretty much stuck to themselves. Now we are a lot closer.”