WHO WE ARE:
We're a group of volunteer neighbors who joined together to help our neighbors when their lives were upended by an EF3 tornado that touched down in our corner of Naperville in June of 2021. EF3 tornadoes make up 4 percent of tornadoes. Peak winds here were estimated at 140 mph.
WHAT WE ARE DOING:
We've partnered with a local nonprofit, the M.P. Foundation, for an environmental yard cleanup initiative that will take place over the next year. We're raising funds through the Spring of 2023, and then will offer grants to homeowners in the most heavily impacted area for yard restoration, landscape remediation, and landscape replacement.
WHY AID IS NEEDED:
The tornado left behind a hidden but dangerous problem.
Imagine a glass bowl shattering in your kitchen, and what it takes to clean that up. Now imagine all the windows in your home blowing out, with glass shards scattering over your yard, along with metal bits and other debris from your home. Expand that thought to include your neighbors' homes and yards. Now, think about what it takes to clean that up, so that you can safely let your children play or your dog go out.
It's not a simple task.
WHY VOLUNTEERS CAN'T DO THE WORK:
Volunteers picking up debris by hand and using specialized equipment have tried to clean debris from some yards. But the glass, metal, and other items that are embedded into the ground continue to heave up to the surface with any rain.
This type of environmental cleanup requires either sieving the topsoil to remove debris or scraping off the top inches of contaminated topsoil, disposing of it properly, putting down and grading new topsoil, and then, laying down grass seed or sod.
WHY NOW AND WHY THIS INITIATIVE:
Even though it is more than a year and a half since the tornado struck Southeast Naperville, some people aren't back in their homes and others are living in homes that are in some state of disrepair. The issues they face are complicated and beyond us.
But we CAN do something about yard cleanup. This type of environmental damage is not covered by insurance. Because this was a small disaster, it didn't qualify for government aid. By taking on this initiative, we can provide some meaningful help as our community recovers.
WHO WE ARE HELPING:
Our initiative will give the most impacted homeowners, who were in the direct path of the tornado, grants to use towards the replacement of their yards. If we raise enough funding, our secondary priorities are to offer landscape remediation and landscape replacement grants to replace lost trees, bushes, and plants.
HOW WE ARE RESPONSIBLY RAISING FUNDS:
By partnering with a nonprofit, we've ensured we can responsibly raise and distribute funds, following best practices. There will be a financial audit at the end of our initiative. As a grassroots group with no paid staff, our only administrative costs will consist of bookkeeping and minimal fundraising costs.
Take a look at WHY yards need cleanup.
See our interview with NCTV17.
Amount of money we aim to raise. Costs for yard replacement range from about $13,000 for smaller lots to $20,000 for larger lots.
Number of households we hope to help with landscaping and beautification grants, if we raise enough funds.
Number of homes eligible for yard replacement grants.
How we will distribute funds
After we conclude fundraising in the spring, we will offer grants to homeowners. The environmental cleanup of yards will be our priority, then, landscape remediation and landscape replacement grants. The application will be live Friday 3/24/2023.
Yard Replacement Grants
Most of our dollars will go towards yard replacement, a priority of this initiative. We will offer funding to families whose homes were declared uninhabitable, and to their direct neighbors. The most debris blanketed these properties.
There's no way to fully clear a yard of debris without sieving the topsoil, or removing it and replacing it.
Yard replacement involves removing the top inches of contaminated topsoil, disposing of it, replacing it with clean soil and grading it, and then topping it with sod or grass seed.
Provided we raise enough money, the next two parts of our initiative will be funded. We plan to offer landscaping grants to homeowners living in the path of the tornado. This funding will be used to clear out planting beds of glass and debris, grind stumps and take down trees that have died over the last two years. As is the case with yard replacement, these losses are not covered by insurance.
This initiative really should be called landscape replacement grants. When planting beds are cleared of glass and debris, the plants have to go as well. This grant will help replace those plants along with trees and shrubs lost in the tornado. Trees and plants beautify areas and will boost the happiness of those who lived through the worst of the tornado's destruction and the aftermath of recovery.