IL Storm Stories

IL Storm Stories
Posted on 04/11/2024
This is the image for the news article titled IL Storm Stories Many of our Indian Lake students and staff members have Storm Stories that are important to share. When they are ready, we will highlight those who want to tell their story of loss, heroism, hope and resilience. 
This year's Indian Lake Schools E+R=O theme is "You Cannot Control the Wind, but You Can Adjust the Sails." That concept has never been truer in our school and community.  

storm stories

We continue our storm stories series with a group of ILHS upperclassmen who launched a grassroots cleanup in one neighborhood after the tornado swept through. 
Seniors Caiden Nicol, Grant McPherson and Evan Manley hunkered down in the basement of Manley's Huntsville home during the storm. Meanwhile, Katie and Halle Roby, who live in Waterbury, rode out the storm stuck in Jackson Center at volleyball practice. 
 "I came back the next day and saw so much destruction. We knew we had to help our neighbors who could not help themselves," Katie said. 
Meantime, Evan gathered up his five chainsaws and the guys set out for Waterbury. 
Evan explained, "I have been cutting wood for years, so I have experience. We just mostly cut up trees and removed debris from people's houses and the roads. There are a lot of people who don't have equipment to get that kinda stuff done."
"I initially didn't want to go because I was letting the fear of the storm get to me, but when I saw Evan's drive to get up and go help people I forgot about my fears." Grant continued, "It was really sad to see everything that happened. It almost felt unreal."
The group worked long hours for several days to clear brush, pile up debris and clear away downed trees. Several other friends and neighbors helped during that period, as well. 
"The neighbors came by and fed us, made sure we were well taken care of. It was amazing seeing how much humanity this community still has," Halle said.  
The group continued their efforts until school was back in session knowing that they had learned an important lesson. 
Caiden said, "I feel like we really helped people and made an impact in our community. I think we did a really important thing to show our concern for others."


Emily Harford

ILHS senior Emily Harford was on duty at Subway of Indian Lake when the tornado sirens sounded off. 
“The sky was getting dark and we could see all the lightning, but we didn’t know how bad it was going to be,” Emily recalled.
As a three-year veteran employee, she knew what to do to make sure everyone there took cover. After receiving warnings on their phones and hearing the sirens, Emily and her co-workers ushered several customers into the restrooms—the safest place in the restaurant. 
“Subway’s got nothing but big windows, so we had to figure out something. We locked all the doors and got everyone into the bathrooms.” She continued, “My main focus was keeping one of my co-workers calm because she was having a panic attack and making sure our customers were ok.” 
The power went out and they listened to the commotion in the dark. The Subway employees stayed in contact with their boss on the phone until the storm passed and once it was over they closed up the store by the light of the back-up generator. 
Everyone headed home, but Emily could not. She lives with her family in Lakeview, just blocks from where homes had been completely destroyed. She again took precautions and stayed at a friend’s house instead of trying to make her way home through all the downed power lines and trees. 
Emily knows she was lucky at work and at home. 
“At my house we had shingles off the roof, a gas leak, and a broken window, but we are fortunate.”

Storm Stories-Coburn

ILHS Assistant Principal Mr. Dave Coburn and ILHS/OHP Business Teacher Mrs. Lisa Coburn were in Wapak having dinner with friends when the tornado alerts began. On their way home, they encountered the edge of the storm damage and blocked roads that rerouted them out in the country, but they had no idea of the destruction that lay ahead.
"It was crazy. The power was all out in Lakeview, but the gas station was all lit up in Russells Point," Dave said. "We didn't know at that point what people were seeing or why people were scrambling around-- because they had seen what we hadn't seen yet."
The road to their Orchard Island home was obstructed by a felled tree at Holiday Harbor, so they decided to go help at Indian Lake High School where Superintendent Rob Underwood was organizing a temporary shelter and triage center. 
Lisa was on the phone with their son Chase, who was safe in a friend's Waterbury home. He was worried about their dog and cat. Lisa recalled, "I think (State Route) 274 was flooded and then there was just trees and debris. I said, 'you're safe, stay put for now.'"
They helped at ILHS until midnight, then picked up Chase and made their way toward Orchard Island where they abandoned their car and walked to the top of the bridge. 
"Even though the power was out, there was still a lightning show, so you could see the flash of the light and the silhouette of everything. We could see the boats in the trees, boats upside down, trees down. But we could see our house was still standing," Dave said. 
They waited on the bridge with hope for several hours while downed power lines and busted gas lines were turned off for safety purposes. That's when retired Washington Township Police Chief Rick Core, who had responded as a law enforcement volunteer, agreed to take them back to their neighborhood.
"We saw mobile homes flipped upside down and we were like, whoa! Some of those mobile homes were crushed, disintegrated," Lisa said. 
Then they got to their own home of 26 years. What they could not see from the bridge was that the entire front of the house was crushed by a giant cottonwood tree. 
"The base of the tree fell on the house, so the front of the tree was blocking the entrance," Dave explained. "So we climbed through the tree to get in the front door...We busted our way in the front door and all of a sudden Molly (the dog) came running down the steps."
Their cat was ok, too. But the structure was destroyed by a combination of the tree, wind and rain. 
They grabbed their animals and essentials and made their way to Lisa's sister's house for the night. But they were up early the next day. 
"In daylight, it was a war zone," Dave said. 
Lisa continued, "Anywhere you looked was destruction. If you looked straight down, there's debris and insulation and glass. You look up and there's metal in the trees. I couldn't even process it. There was so much devastation everywhere."
"The tornado had gone over the water, so every place around here looked like it was sprayed with a mixture of mud, insulation and lake water. It looked like fur," Dave recalled.
Right now, the Coburns are working through the process with their insurance company, which declared their home a total loss. They are living temporarily in a lake home that belongs to an ILHS alum. They plan to move to an AirBnB on northern Orchard Island once minor repairs on it are complete. That way they will be close as they rebuild a new home on the same spot as soon as possible. 
Both are back to school, as well, helping students come to terms with what the tornado left behind. 
"In the grand scheme of things, we're way better off than a lot of people. I feel guilty on one hand, but so thankful on the other." Dave said he's glad to see The Lake Effect--a concept concentrating on resilience taught at ILHS--in action. 
"It's great to see the community rally around each other. It's crazy how it brings us all together. "