Ottawa tornado: 68 residents displaced from Ottawa nursing home weeks before 50th anniversary celebration

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LASALLE COUNTY, IL-- "I thought when I retired I would have seen everything, nope. No. Now I've seen everything," says director of nursing Cathy Balzarini.

The barren building, the LaSalle County Nursing Home, was home to 68 people just days ago when a tornado hit on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.

"We had to pull everyone out into the hallway," says Balzarini.

Balzarini has been a nurse for 20 years, and even for her, getting that many elderly people to safety was no easy task.

"Bringing them out, holding their hands, they get them singing in the hallways, things like that," says Balzarini.

"At 3:30 p.m. that day we had a fire drill here which is the ironic part about it all," says nursing home administrator Chris Csernus.

They say because of that drill, all 68 residents were in a state of mind where they could focus. No one was seriously hurt.

"It was amazing. Very thankful. Maybe it was higher power driven, I don't know," says Balzarini.

Sifting through the rubble the tornado left behind isn't easy, and some things need to be put on hold.

"We were going to have our 50th anniversary on April 19th. Obviously we got stopped, but we'll have it. We're going to push through," says Balzarini.

Staff say inside those walls they witnessed a miracle.

"I'm so thankful nobody was seriously injured," says Balzarini.