SENECA, Ill. — Two months ago, Rodney Seibert survived a tornado, which swept across North Central Illinois and La Salle County, but his rental home and the majority of his personal belongings, including his cargo van and work tools, did not.

On Aug. 24, Seibert explained it was through compassion of the local community he is succeeding in his recovery.

Interviewed in the wake of the storm, Seibert, a self-employed contractor, carpenter and cabinet maker, explained he considered himself and other storm-affected neighbors to be fortunate people, despite his personal loss.

No local persons were injured in the June 22 storm.

Standing in the rubble of the rural Seneca house where he had lived for almost 10 years, Seibert, who survived the tornado only by running to his home’s basement, told The Times, “Satan was outside my door that night. He was screaming. I thought he had come for me. I never heard anything like it.”

Wednesday, Seibert unpacked boxes in his new place.

“I am so grateful for the generosity of the community, of my friends — even strangers — who have given me furniture, a computer, tools, some money and other things to help give me a new start in a new place. I wouldn’t have known what to do, who to turn to. Without them, I’d probably be living in some campground someplace.”

Instead, just days ago, Seibert, moved into a new rental home in Marseilles and has remodeling work lined up to help him and his three employees in the near future.

Seibert said his new landlord also has arranged some work for his company, P.L.S. Remodeling, and his small crew, which should help them through the lean winter months.

“The shock of that night is still with me,” he admitted. “But thanks to many people, I’m on my own two feet again and working toward the future. And to know that people cared was just as important as the things people gave me. I knew people would probably help me, but I was surprised how many actually did. It has all been very nice.”

Seibert said he also appreciated the kindness and assistance of his former landlords, The Maierhofer family, of Seneca, as he picked up the broken pieces of his life. He had no renters insurance and only liability on his work van, which was a total loss after the storm.

“The entire Maierhofer family made sure I was taken care of and were very helpful after the tornado even though they had tremendous home and property damage of their own to deal with,” said Seibert. He also thanked friend and business client, Jennifer Bilyeu, who arranged a savings account MB Financial Bank in Seneca for donations and set up a GoFundMe page online at

Seibert said he has used some of the money out of the bank and a few dollars from the internet site. As of Wednesday, the internet site still had $2,321 available to him.

He said it was difficult to drive past the now empty lot where his home and workshop once sat.

“The house, the big trees, the workshop are all gone, leveled and hauled away. It is hard to see that the place I lived at for so long is no longer there.”

Asked what does he think he survived the tornado, he said, “God wanting me on a different path and, right now, every day, I am following his lead on that path. I have work every day on the job or here at the new house, and that’s great because I need to keep my employees busy and my customers happy.

“It just wasn’t my time yet. I know God stayed with me that night and, I guess, he is still looking over my shoulder. The storm changed my life and completely drained me, but, so far, it has been way better than I thought it would be. There are so many people to thank.”

Source: the (Ottawa) Times,

Information from: The Daily Times,

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by The (Ottawa) Daily Times.