First-Person: Running From the Storm at Taste
Joliet Patch Editor Dawn Aulet was at the REO Speedwagon concert at the Taste of Joliet Friday night, and witnessed as the storm sent attendees fleeing from Joliet Memorial Stadium.
I like REO Speedwagon. Favorite song? Can't Fight This Feeling. What I could not fight on Friday night, though, was the urge to outright run to my car to keep me and my kids safe.
The storm came in suddenly. For those who had been watching the weather forecast on their phones, they had a headstart. There was lightning in the sky, but when the rain began, it was driving and the wind was, well, frightening.
I'm sure I am not the only one who had thoughts of the concert in August 2011, where the stage collapsed at a state fair and four people died.
For my part, I exited the east gate. Thanks to Plainfield Patch editor Shannon Antinori, who was at the show with me and had a good eye on the storm on her phone, we were ahead of the crowds. But as I and my two children made a mad dash to the car, the storm took a turn for the worse.
What was just windy, like a storm blowing in, became gusting. Plastic grocery bags literally swirled in the wind. I was beginning to get a small taste of what it might have been like to go through something like the Plainfield tornado.
We got to the car and got out of the parking lot. Then, we were stopped at the intersection of Jefferson and Infantry. The poor Joliet police officer was trying to direct traffic while being battered by the driving rain.
Then, multiple fire engines and ambulances headed toward the entrance into Inwood Athletic Center off Jefferson. I don't know what happened.
Being one of the lucky ones to get to their vehicles rather quickly, I was able to observe the unlucky ones, who were running in front of vehicles that had reduced visibility as they tried to get to their own cars.
All of a sudden, the lights in the surrounding businesses, including the Thornton gas station, went black. The power went out. I ended up taking a right onto Jefferson because going west or straight on Infantry seemed impossible.
Like many others in Joliet and the surrounding area, we are without power. But I am grateful to be safe, even if it is in candlelight.