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home : news : local   April 29, 2016

11/20/2013 9:50:00 AM
Man finds ID blown 86 miles by tornado


La Salle County state’s attorney Brian Towne (left) examines the identification card of his sister Tammy O’Marah, while Luke Windy of Morris looks on. Windy found O’Marah’s work ID card at his home near Morris — an 86-mile trip from Washington, Ill., where O’Marah’s home was devastated during Sunday’s torando. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
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La Salle County state’s attorney Brian Towne (left) examines the identification card of his sister Tammy O’Marah, while Luke Windy of Morris looks on. Windy found O’Marah’s work ID card at his home near Morris — an 86-mile trip from Washington, Ill., where O’Marah’s home was devastated during Sunday’s torando.

NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



Tornado victim Tammy O’Marah returned Monday to what was left of her Woodford County home. On Tuesday, she got a call saying a man found her work ID card, which had been blown away with the house.

The card was found in Morris — a 90-mile drive from Washington, Ill.

Morris resident Luke Windy found the card. He returned Sunday to his home, located near White Oaks School on the Morris blacktop, to find storm debris deposited from a line of tornadoes that had weakened by the time they reached Grundy County. Windy’s neighbors reported finding mail from Woodford County.

“We saw that our dog was scratching at something on our back porch,” Windy said. “My wife picked it up and we didn’t think anything of it.”

But on closer inspection, they saw the card was issued by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and bore a phone number with a 309 area code.

“I looked at the area code and saw that it was from Peoria-Washington,” Windy said, “and kind of put it together.”

Windy, through his mother, reached out to the NewsTribune, which happened to have interviewed O’Marah for Monday’s story on the tornadoes. O’Marah is a Peru native and a 1991 graduate of La Salle-Peru Township High School.

Windy then was put in touch with O’Marah’s brother, Brian Towne, who collected the ID card Tuesday at Ottawa High School, where Windy is an assistant coach. O’Marah will receive it soon.

“I think that’s amazing,” O’Marah said this morning from Washington, where a contractor will today assess whether her heavily damaged home can be salvaged.

“That’s amazing that he took the time to give it to my brother,” she said. “I can’t tell you how blessed I am that everyone is so generous from near and far.”

Towne, who also serves as La Salle County state’s attorney, said he was no less grateful to Windy.

“I was impressed with his good will,” Towne said. “It’s encouraging when people show such an unselfish spirit toward others in a time of need.”

Towne said he thought it funny that a man named “Windy” would find his sister’s card; but he wasn’t laughing as he considered the force of a storm that not only devastated his sister’s home but also blew her ID card across as many as four county lines.

“I was shocked to learn where Luke found Tammy’s ID,” he said. “It wouldn’t have surprised me if the card had been found one or two towns over from Washington — but to have blown past my office in Ottawa and kept traveling east? It makes you appreciate the awful power of a tornado.”

O’Marah and her daughter were in Indiana the day the storms hit, and she did not personally see the twister. But her husband and son both were home and survived a close shave. O’Marah’s husband sought cover for the boy and the family dog; when the storm passed they looked up at where the ceiling had been and “saw daylight,” as Towne put it.

“I’m having trouble knowing what we’ve even lost,” O’Marah said. “It’s the little things that are a blessing to us right now.”

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com.








Related Stories:
• Tornado aftermath: 'It's overwhelming'
• Peru pizza truck brings 80 pies to tornado victims





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