HUNTLEY District 158 Superintendent John Burkey had the TV ready for the Chicago Bears game Sunday, when he first saw news that a tornado ripped through his hometown of Washington.
immediately felt shock as he
learned that the tornado, with winds between 170 and 190 miles per hour, destroyed Washington neighborhoods nearly a mile away from his
old house in the Tazewell County community, near Peoria.
In the moments that followed, Burkey
called and texted friends from his
Washington Community High School days to learn that some had their homes destroyed or damaged.
None of his
friends were severely injured.
"It destroyed whole neighborhoods in Washington," Burkey
, who no longer has family in Washington, said he
has already donated to the numerous relief organizations assisting residents affected by the tornado.
moved from Peoria to Washington during middle school, graduated high school there and often returned during breaks as an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
permanently returned to the area in the late 1990s to work as a principal for Dunlap Middle School
He later would become an assistant superintendent at the Dunlap school district before moving to Huntley in 2006 to become District 158's top administrator.
plans to keep in touch with friends from Washington, as residents there begin the long recovery effort.
"Tornadoes touched a lot of communities in the state," he