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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Mail addressed to Washington recipients found 100 miles away from tornado destruction

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  • CHANNAHON — For Scott Slocum, the storms that damaged Illinois on Sunday hit a bit too close to home.
    Or, more accurately, both of his homes.
    In the backyard of his Channahon residence and in areas adjacent to it, the East Peoria native found evidence of the destruction wreaked by the tornado that swept through Washington — almost 100 miles to the southwest.
    Slocum and his eighth-grade son Scottie recovered mail addressed to Washington recipients. Mixed with other debris, they also found a portion of a birth certificate that listed a Washington address.
    “It blew me away,” said the elder Slocum, program director and morning-show host at WJOL-AM (1340) in Joliet.
    Slocum’s parents still live in East Peoria. Other family members live nearby.
    “Whenever we come down, we always take Cummings Lane,” Slocum said about a thoroughfare near the area of Washington that sustained the most damage.
    “My first worries were for my family,” he said. “Once I found out they were OK ... anything that hits your original hometown, you’re more concerned.”
    Before he found the Washington evidence, the storm already was a big concern for Slocum. The 1984 graduate of East Peoria Community High School was marshaling from home WJOL coverage of tornadoes that touched down near Coal City and Frankfort. Both areas are near Joliet.
    The storms missed Channahon by about six or seven miles, Slocum said. They also conjured bad memories for the former East Peoria varsity basketball starter, who has worked at WJOL for 25 years.
    In 1990, Slocum covered a tornado that struck Plainfield and adjacent areas north of Joliet. That storm killed 29 people, injured more than 350 and caused about $200 million in damage.
    “This place is particularly sensitive to tornadoes,” Slocum said. “Everybody up here knows exactly what Washington is going through. Those pictures are eerily similar to what we saw in Plainfield, Crest Hill and Joliet.”
    Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or nvlahos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.

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