Volunteer Efforts Underway to Assist Victims of Recent Tornadoes
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today declared Douglas, Jasper, Pope, Wabash, Wayne and Will counties state disaster areas following violent storms and tornadoes on Sunday that affected several regions of the state. The declaration increases the number of declared counties to 13. On Monday, Governor Quinn declared Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties state disaster areas after a severe storm system ripped across Illinois, spawning at least two EF4 tornadoes.
“Yesterday I saw firsthand the devastation caused by these deadly storms,” Governor Quinn said. “While the recovery will be long and hard, we will work in the coming days, weeks and months to assist these communities and help the people who live there rebuild their lives.“
On Monday, Governor Quinn personally inspected the damage in some of Illinois’ hardest hit communities: Washington, Diamond, Gifford, Brookport and New Minden.
The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state of Illinois has personnel and assets that can be mobilized to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including such things as trucks, heavy equipment to remove debris, communications equipment and provide assistance with security and other public safety issues.
Governor Quinn also announced that volunteer efforts are well underway to assist the victims of the November 17 tornadoes that devastated several communities in Illinois. Financial donations to volunteer disaster response agencies are the best way to help. Cash donations allow these agencies to purchase exactly what is needed, when it is needed. If materials are donated, they should only be those items specifically requested by officials, and these should be brought to officially designated collection centers.
Those who wish to volunteer in person should not go to the disaster scene, since there are far more volunteer offers than there are volunteer needs, and the arrival of unexpected volunteers will interfere with recovery efforts. Volunteers should first go to a reputable volunteer agency that is responding to the disaster, and they will be assigned when and where their services can best be used. Volunteers should be patient and wait until they can be adequately trained by relief agencies. The most crucial need will be for volunteers during the long-term recovery phase, which could last for several months.
Volunteer information for specific areas is listed below. For more information visit Ready.illinois.gov for information on specific sites that can utilize volunteers.
- Gifford (Champaign County). American Red Cross-Central Illinois chapter, (217) 351-5861.
- Coal City (Grundy County). Coal City High School, Mr. Rich Kapinus, (815) 207-0926.
- Washington County. No need for volunteers or donations at this time.
- City of Washington (Tazewell County). Call (309) 573-4035.
In addition, the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) will offer free one-on-one insurance counseling services to assist Washington residents recovering from the November 17 tornado. DOI staff will help individuals with the insurance claims process by providing information on how to properly document storm damage, whether to make temporary repairs, what a consumer’s homeowner policy covers and what to expect during the claims process.
The first day of counseling will take place on Tuesday, November 19 in the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot at 1980 Freedom Parkway in Washington. Those seeking assistance should arrive by 10 a.m. DOI staff will offer free counseling daily thereafter from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If available, consumers should bring an inventory of contents, policy information and all documentation they have received from company adjusters or public adjusters.
Other state assistance to impacted communities to date includes:
- Four Technical Rescue Teams were sent to Washington.
- One Technical Rescue Team was sent to Gifford.
- Two three-man engine companies will work 12-hour shifts through Wednesday in Gifford to provide much-needed relief to the town’s firefighters.
- More than 40 light towers have been delivered to assist with nighttime operations in Washington (26), Pekin (6), Gifford (10) and Brookport (2).
- Command vehicles have been deployed to Washington and Pekin to support response operations.
- Law enforcement support has come from the Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and Illinois Commerce Commission officers.
- One five-person Emergency Management Assistance Team support trailer and 10 Starcom radios have been provided to Brookport.
- 40 Starcom 21 radios have been provided to assist Washington responders with emergency communications.