Surviving the Illinois tornadoes

By JASMINE WILLIS

OBSERVER Staff Writer

An F-4 tornado ripped through Washington, Ill., Sunday night leaving many without homes, including, former Fredonia resident Alex Pawlak.

Alex moved to Washington Ill., in 1996 and became an honor student with dreams of joining the U.S. Air Force only to find out that he was color blind and couldn’t do aviation.

Kevin Pawlak, Alex’s father, said when Alex saw the ruins he was in a panic and jumped into action trying to salvage anything he could.

“He was devastated at 18 (when he couldn’t join the Air Force) and this (the tornado) seems like one more hurdle after another for a kid who helps everyone else and is a hard worker,” Kevin said.

Alex is a sophomore at Illinois State University taking Business Management and on the weekends he works for the International Guard.

He was at the International Guard base when the tornado touched down.

“He called his girlfriend and told her to pay a bill 20 minutes before the tornado hit,” Kevin said. “He literally saved her life.”

Alex had only been living in his home for a month and was still unpacking his life.

“The evening before the tornado hit Alex had just come over to get more of his stuff out of storage,” Kevin said.

Now all that seems to be left of Alex’s home is some food and dishes in the kitchen. Kevin Pawlak said there are no words to describe what he sees as he stands in the ruins of his son’s home.

“It is one more thing to haunt you, no one got any sleep lastnight, we are just trying to figure out where to go and what to do,” Kevin said.

Right now Alex will be living with his father in Mackinaw Ill., which is about eight miles away from his home.

“Alex feels lucky his girlfriend wasn’t there and is glad she is safe,” Kevin said. “He didn’t care about material things.”

Alex and his brother are helping out the community. Alex was called to his unit to help with recovery after the disaster struck his hometown.

The Pawlak family is asking for help from their old community and would like to have donations sent to Kevin Pawlak’s home, 30968 Tyrrell Rd., Mackinaw Ill. 61755.