An important note.

Hi, Natalie here. I want to post something important from the site Becca listed yesterday (http://www.illinois.gov/ready/Press/Pages/111713.aspx).

TO VOLUNTEER

  • DO NOT GO TO THE SCENE OF A DISASTER
  • Due to the overwhelming response, there are far more volunteer offers than there are volunteer needs.
  • The arrival of unexpected volunteers will interfere with response efforts.
  • STAY SAFE by volunteering with a reputable agency!
  • Volunteers will be needed most during the long-term recovery phase, which will last month/years.
  • Please be patient and WAIT until relief agencies can train you and use your help.

Bolded emphasis mine. PLEASE remember that unexpected/unsolicited volunteers can often make things worse.  We understand that everyone feels helpless and wants to do anything they can at a time like this to help, but it’s imperative that you wait until you’re contacted by a reputable agency to come out.  Please don’t show up unannounced, and please don’t donate things that aren’t asked for. We spent hours yesterday evening going through bags of donated clothes, and while those will be very helpful for victims of this disaster, there were also many thing that won’t be helpful at all (for example, the many pairs of used underwear we had to sort through).  There will be plenty to do, and work for everyone in the long term, so please be patient while we figure out where to place you. Thanks!

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An udate.

We have been posted to Washington, IL for full-time tornado recovery efforts. We will be at the donation center located at Countryside Banquet facility (659 School St.). We are asking that those who want to sign up to help go through the Washington Chamber of Commerce. Thanks!

The Day After Tomorrow- Starting A New Term

 

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Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.”

Jessica here, reporting for my first day of my 4th term, and what a day it has been!  I am a Pekin resident and experienced the F4 tornado that touched down numerous times in my town, early Sunday afternoon.  Ten years ago in 2003, the tornado took a similar path that it did yesterday.  The image above was taken at the apartment complex across the street from my son’s daycare, a street away from my Mom’s house.  I lived opposite end of town and knew the storm was bad when the lights flickered on and off and the tv was going out.  I was huddled in my bath tub with my seven year old son, just hoping and praying as we live in an apartment without basement or ground floor to seek shelter in.  My mother came to rescue us,driving us to her home,  as  the funnel was over the high school, but not on the ground at that point. However, like the image above, it was pure white against the dark sky.  Eerily enough, there was a rainbow in the sky.  the tornado touched down again, opposite of court street from where I live. The tornado touched down again in East Peoria, then to Washington, then went north, hitting Towanda, hitting many more times yesterday.

The force of the wind blew my mother’s locked front and back door open, as well as blew everything in the fire place out.  When I went home later that day, I discovered that parts of my roof that were missing. Luckily,  Mom and I still have a place to live and no one was hurt.  Unfortunately, my on site supervisor and her husband lost their home in Washington as it swept through their town.

This is all very surreal knowing we started the week with a half inch of snow that fell on Monday and stuck around til Tuesday, for it to get up to 70 degrees on Sunday. After the storm, within minutes, the temperate dropped 20 degrees down to normal seasonal temperature.  I spent the rest of the day holding my son a little bit tighter.

Driving out of Pekin on the North side was heartbreaking seeing damaged homes. Unbelievable. Today, we are playing it by ear to see what we can do in response to the tornado, but I her the gas leak is still a problem.  I’ve heard from a friend that is a registered Red Cross volunteer, that baby items are in need, especially diapers! We will keep you posted.

Be well and get things done! -Jessica

Devastation.

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November 17, 2013 has become a day that will not be easily forgotten by those who live in Central Illinois.  Around 10:30 to 11 a tornado ripped through multiple areas in the areas surrounding Peoria.  Washington getting the brunt of the storms which reached nearly 200 MPH winds while there were touchdowns in Pekin, East Peoria, Marquette Heights, and Roanoke.  Devastation is widespread.  There was luckily ONLY one fatality in Washington, but six throughout Illinois.  Governor Pat Quinn has been going throughout Illinois assessing damage and visiting with the communities effected the greatest, seeing what the needs are and trying to lift spirits as best as he can.  Volunteers are still being asked to stay out of the area, especially Washington, until they can determine what needs to be done and who can be of the most help.  Stay tuned to news and radio reports, FEMA reports, and reports from American Red Cross, as they are the sources you should be listening to.

What can I do to help?

As of right now, Red Cross is asking to go online and make monetary donations, selecting that the funds be sent directly to the tornado relief.  Although there will be needs in the next few days to weeks, once everything has been assessed the shelters will know exactly what they need.  Right now, the area has been flooded with donations of all kinds, which is wonderful, although there is no areas to store anything yet.  Again, stay tuned to see when they will be accepting donations and what they need.

What is AmeriCorps doing?

Today, our members gathered together at the Agency and put together everything we had including sleeping bags, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, and hygiene items.  We haven’t sent them anywhere as we are still waiting to hear where there is a need.  We have also not been mobilized.  We are ready and we are on call for when we are needed but until all of the damage has been assessed, we will not be sent anywhere.  There are other AmeriCorps groups that are coming from Missouri and other states to help and once they have arrived, our AmeriCorps team will help them in whatever ways we can, be it lodging, transportation, or guidance as they are not familiar with the area.  We will later be put in charge of volunteer groups at emergency child care places that have been opened, or at shelters, or food pantries, or with animals.  Wherever we are needed we will be.

How can I stay updated and in the loop?

This website has everything that you need to know.  Who is involved, who needs what, where you can help, what you can donate, etc, etc.
Also feel free to contact us here at AmeriCorps: Fostering Transitions.
Coordinator Julie S: jsiebert@chail.org
Team Member Coach Natalie S: nsalawage@chail.org
AmeriCorps members: americorps@chail.org
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