AFTER tornadoes tore through a large part of the American Midwest on Sunday 17 November, The Salvation Army responded immediately, offering food, hydration, shelter and spiritual and emotional care through its network of corps community centres.
In the central Illinois counties of Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford, most of the damage was centered around Washington, Illinois. Early reports claimed that an F-4 tornado may have entered Washington (population 15,000) and the adjoining areas of Tazewell County. The most affected cities of Pekin, Morton, Washington and East Peoria – with a combined population of 100,000 – suffered fully demolished houses, flooding and severe damage.
The Salvation Army has deployed mobile kitchens (canteens) and spiritual care officers to assist in the recovery. Since early Sunday afternoon four canteens from central Illinois have delivered essential nourishment and hydration to the cities of Washington, Pekin, Roanoke and Gifford, Illinois. Salvation Army officers have also been deployed to shelters to comfort survivors.
The work of assessing and forecasting the immediate needs of this disaster event continues. The Heartland Division (The Salvation Army in Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa) considers this a long-term assignment and is planning accordingly. Salvation Army officials ask: 'Please keep this area in your prayers as we move towards recovery.'
In the Metro Chicago area, The Salvation Army has been at work since Sunday afternoon in Grundy and Will Counties. A canteen is providing food and hydration to first responders and survivors from a base at Coal City High School.
The Salvation Army dispatched a canteen to Washington County, Illinois on Sunday afternoon in response to a report of a tornado touching down in New Minden. Initial reports stated that one house was destroyed, one church was damaged, and there were three confirmed fatalities. Salvation Army volunteers from Centralia, Illinois assisted with the response. The canteen was released by authorities and redeployed to Brookport, Illinois, outside of Paducah, Kentucky, where reports indicated significant tornado damage, with 100 homes affected – 50 of which were destroyed. A canteen from Paducah is also ready to respond when needed.
Kokomo Corps Community Center sheltered 30 displaced persons on Sunday night and its canteen served the people of the city on Monday. Damage in the area was so severe that the city prohibited vehicle traffic throughout Sunday evening and Monday morning. In Lafayette, Indiana another canteen was deployed on Monday morning at the request of local officials.
Canteens across Illinois and Indiana are set to respond immediately when requested by local or state disaster officials. As the severity and extent of the damage becomes clear it is expected that a greater response will be required.
Report by Jeff Curnow
USA Central Territory