Memorial in Fairdale remembers victims on four-year anniversary

Published: Apr. 9, 2019 at 5:39 PM CDT
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A Fairdale bench is decorated to remember two victims who died from a devastating tornado four years ago.

The E-4 tornado took the lives of Geri Schultz and Jackie Klosa. The tornado reached speeds up to 200 miles per hour, destroying 13 homes and damaging more than 70, according to officials.

Clem Schultz, husband of Geri Schultz, was capturing video of what turned out to be a deadly tornado in Fairdale, Illinois. When it directly hit and destroyed his home, he initially feared the worse.

Schultz says, "Am I dead? I figured yeah I might be dead. Then I said no I'm not dead because I hurt, so I started to dig out from the rubble on top of me."

At the time of the tornado, he was one floor above his wife, and that's when he found out the devastating news.

He says, "Because I hurt, a neighbor or first responder helped me walk my way out of the rubble. He said now sit on this beam but don't look down because you're wife is right under you and she's dead."

Four years later, Fairdale has come together as a village. Even building a memorial honoring the tornado victims as well as those who survived, but had to rebuild.

Ed Silvers, a resident of Fairdale since 1980, says he knew both of the victims and that most of the villages houses were destroyed that day. Silvers says, "I knew them both well, very well. There were 56 homes at one time and about half of them were destroyed. Remembrance of a devastation that occurred, we've come back pretty strong. But it's been a lot of hard work for a lot of people."

While the community has gotten stronger, Schultz says his mantra to get over the sadness every day, especially on days near the anniversary, is to find a bit of humor in your every day life. He says, "If you can't find something humorous, in any situation, you gotta find something to laugh about. Because if you don't laugh, you're going to cry."