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?