March 27, 1991 TORNADO
Lemont, Cook County, Illinois
Looking West 704 McCarthy Street
Above April 13, 2006
From Lemont 125th Anniversary Book (See
Books for ordering info)
On March 27, 1991, Lemont was hit with a twister through the town in a selective
manner, demolishing one home, not touching the other. The tornado destroyed 15
homes and damaged 180 more. First downing a 100 ft. microwave relay tower at
127th St. west of town, the tornado erratically veered in a northwest path
through residential Peiffer, Warner, State and the Blue Hill (neighborhood
around St. Cyril & Methodist Church) area. It then rammed the McCarthy Pointe
subdivision off of McCarthy Road, then traumatized Franciscan Village on Main St.
(near Walker Road) and continued on Main Street, it badly damaged the Powell
Duffryn Terminal. Still following a northeast pattern, it tore the roof off
of St. James Church in Sag before dissipating.
Lives were saved by the quick thinking of Police Sgt. Tom Hess. A department
policy is to station an officer at the village’s highest point on 127th St.
Hess got the surprise of his life when he saw the tornado coming right toward him
in his rear view mirror. He yelled into his radio,” I’m getting hit
by a tornado - sound the sirens.” The tornado had his squad car up on two
wheels, pushing it across the road and flipping it over. Hess's early warning
provided the cushion that helped people get to safety. He was awarded the Silver
Cross for bravery and inducted into the Policemen Hall of Fame for his heroic
deed. He was included in the Hall of Fame's trading cards recognizing outstanding
officers for the year. He was later featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show that
centered on tornado safety. Many agencies, organizations, businesses and private
individuals pitched into help. The State ESDA was very impressed with the village's
disaster readiness. The local Christian Clergy Association was assigned the task
of distributing funds to victims of the tornado.
©2006-2018 by Lemont Area Historical Society