First Responders Remember Fairdale Tornado One Year Later


“For 15 years we’ve trained on this and yeah it’s beyond you’re imagination.”

Rockford Fire Captain Chris Scott remembering the night nearly one year ago that an Ef-4 tornado ripped though the town of Fairdale. Kirkland officers and firefighters were called to the scene of incredible destruction as well.

“It was just a scary and overwhelming situation.  It was nothing I’d ever seen before,” DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott recalls.

Several departments from all over the region were called to action and their first order of business was to make sure survivors were safe.

“All the responders did great.  The training fell into place and we did a couple rescues, we were rescuing people out of their basements and then searching for the woman that was still missing,” Captain Scott says.

Sheriff Scott and Kirkland Fire Chief Chad Connell were both among the first on the scene.  They met with me in Fairdale to discuss some of the lessons learned from that impactful night last April.

“If I had to do it all over again, we would have spread the resources out and maybe call them in as we needed them to help with some of the congestion and some of the confusion,” says Connell.  

“We were so focused on Fairdale itself that we didn’t realize what was going on to then north of us and some of the residences there and we didn’t give them as much attention as we should have right away,” Sheriff Scott adds.  

And while they agree some mistakes were made, those on the scene say this was a great learning experience. And given the situation they feel the crews on scene adapted well. 

“Can you really be prepared for everything?  No.  you have to be able to, you know, use every resource you can and take advantage of that and I think we did that,” adds Connell.  

And looking back almost a year later—these men say they’re amazed at what has been accomplished.

“Those residents came back to where either they grew up or they live; it is a home,” says Captain Scott.  

To come back here now, it’s really a great feeling to see the progress,” Sheriff Scott says.  

Chief Connell adds, “I really am truly amazed at, out of this horrible thing, the good that we still have in this world.”

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