Local volunteers answer the call to Central Illinois damage zone - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local volunteers answer the call to Central Illinois damage zone

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It didn't take long for the Rock River Valley's chapter of the American Red Cross to send two emergency vehicle drivers to areas of Central Illinois in need of help.

Tornadoes leveled areas of Washington and East Peoria Sunday while many took shelter in basements or elsewhere. Photographs and videos don't begin to tell the story though of the people in need of assistance.

Within minutes of being in Washington, we ran into a man from Stillman Valley. In his hands, a box of Christmas ornaments from a home that wasn't anymore. The home belonged to a husband and wife. Even the elderly father of the homeowner was pacing the grounds looking for what could be salvaged as an American flag waved in the gusty winds.

Shortly after, we met with two American Red Cross volunteers, Mike and Bill. The two came down in individual emergency response vehicle, hoping to deliver warm meals and fresh water to those trying to find pieces of their lives, scattered across fields.

While we were there, a lady found her dog and other searched fields for human remains. And as the Sun set, the work continued with chainsaws reducing uprooted trees to firewood.

Mike O'Brien, an emergency vehicle driver for the Red Cross spoke about what he'd seen on Monday.

"We were in East Peoria today and we've seen several homes completely destroyed, several homes were lifted completely off their foundation, turned 90 degrees and sat back down."

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