ROCHELLE — The tornado shrine is no more.
Nearly six years ago, a tornado touched down west of Rochelle, destroying several houses and damaging several more.
No one was killed or seriously injured in the storm locally, although two people died when the same storm, an EF-5 tornado, ravaged the town of Fairfield.
The storm left a damaged tree on Skare Road, along Skare Park. Standing about 5 feet high, only the back and partial side of the huge tree remained.
At some point a local resident put a statue of The Blessed Virgin Mary in the remains of the tree in thanksgiving for the lives spared in the storm.
According to a local person who wants to remain anonymous, no one knows who put the statue there. But other residents, also unidentified, eventually added solar lights and plastic flowers.
Over the past five years I could look out at night and see the memorial. I would go past it and wonder who did it, and who maintained it.
Someone would trim around the base of the rotting tree. Someone would pull the seeds and straighten the flowers after storms.
Someone replaced the Blessed Virgin Mary after the first one was damaged.
But this winter proved too much. The statue was again damaged by the heavy snows and plowed snow and the tree has deteriorated to the point where it should be removed.
As one person told me as they cleaned up the site last week, “It has come to a conclusion.”