Storm chaser

Rochelle, IL, Rural Carrier Joel Reese and a customer whose home was damaged by a tornado

After a series of violent tornadoes ripped through Illinois this year, residents were surprised to see a familiar face: Joel Reese, their rural carrier.

Reese, who works out of the Rochelle Post Office, was determined to continue delivering mail, despite the devastation along his route.

“I knew that I had to at least try,” he said. “I had checks and packages of medicine for my customers. These people had been through enough without having to worry about getting these items.”

On the day after one storm, Reese wrote letters to his customers explaining their options for mail delivery, including providing them with change-of-address and mail holding forms.

He also offered them words of encouragement.

“People were grateful because they were getting the mail, and that felt normal to them,” Reese said.