Leap Day Tornado


Introduction by Rita Cheng, Chancellor, SIU Carbondale

Words cannot adequately describe the terror and tragedy that struck our friends and neighbors in Harrisburg and Ridgway at 4:56 a.m. on February 29, 2012.  The compelling images that follow, however, speak volumes about the magnitude of this disaster.

As they chronicled the devastation, our photojournalism students and faculty also captured the essence of who we are in Southern Illinois. Within minutes of the EF4 tornado passing, first responders and many other good Samaritans rushed to the stricken communities in an effort to save lives and tend to the injured.

In the hours, days and weeks that followed, hundreds of people shared their time and treasure to assist with the recovery, including students, faculty and staff from SIU Carbondale. They contributed in many ways -­‐‑-­‐‑ donating time and effort, food, supplies, and money -­‐‑-­‐‑ to help so many who had lost so much.

Some who volunteered -­‐‑-­‐‑ along with participants in this book project -­‐‑-­‐‑ perhaps came face-­‐‑to-­‐‑face with tragedy and loss of life for the first time. They learned valuable lessons about compassion and reaching out to those in need. And they learned about the incredible determination of the residents of Harrisburg and Ridgway.

We are pleased to donate the proceeds from the sale of this book, produced by our School of Journalism, to the ongoing recovery effort. The courage and resiliency of the residents of these communities, and the spirit of generosity shown by so many, will forever serve as inspiration to all of us.


Read more about the Leap Day Tornado:

Devastation Before Dawn – Part 1

Devastation Before Dawn – Part 2

Devastation Before Dawn – Part 3

Devastation Before Dawn – Part 4

Devastation Before Dawn – Images


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