Heart of Illinois Bounces Back After Devastation
by Terry Bibo, Tri-County Long Term Recovery Committee
More than 1,100 families lost their homes in Washington, IL alone when mammoth tornadoes struck Central Illinois on November 17.
The next morning, representatives of nearly 100 different groups – corporations, nonprofits and churches – gathered to react as one.
This was by far the single largest natural disaster the area had ever seen but the communities were fortunate in that few people were home that morning. Only three lives were lost, though that is still too many. Everyone from carpenters to musicians (i.e. Styx and REO Speedwagon) to the Chicago Bears volunteered to help, laying the groundwork for a unified response.
The last nine months have been challenging for the communities impacted by the storms. While Washington sustained the most damage, two other neighboring communities were impacted as well – East Peoria and Pekin. Serving the specific needs of each community proved to be the greatest hurdle.
Thanks to the Illinois Tornado Relief Effort that helped raise money for the affected communities, the Peoria Area Community Foundation was able to form the Tri-County Long Term Recovery (LTR) committee. The committee was created to ensure relief and recovery was a seamless operation for those impacted as well as for volunteers.
We are excited to announce that the Long Term Recovery Center will be opening its doors on July 18 to assist residents and provide information regarding recovery efforts. In addition, the facility is centrally located and can be easily accessed by surrounding areas. The 3,000-square-foot office has ample space for caseworkers and clients.
“The Long Term Recovery Center is a much needed asset to Central Illinois since we are just beginning to see some of those deeper needs of the communities,” said LTR chairman Jim Fassino.