Disaster Relief aids northern Illinois tornado recovery

Meredith Flynn —  April 13, 2015

Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers worked over the weekend at three homes in Rochelle, Ill., one of the northern Illinois communities hit by a tornado April 9.

By Lisa Sergent

Rochelle, Ill. | Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were busy Saturday removing trees and limbs downed by last week’s tornadoes in northern Illinois.

Chainsaw teams from four associations of churches—Fox Valley, Quad Cities, Sinnissippi, and Three Rivers—worked at three homes in the town of Rochelle, where 45-50 homes were damaged April 9.

Rex Alexander, Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Illinois Baptist State Association, said the response to the disaster was “almost overwhelming.”

“Streets were clogged with the cars of volunteers and the owners of damaged homes were inundated with volunteers and disaster relief teams from all over the state, as well as from other states. One home across the street from our team had over 50 volunteers working with them,” he noted.

Alexander said the town of Fairdale has not yet been opened to volunteers, but he is continuing to monitor the situation for future opportunities. However, he doesn’t expect there to be much work for IBSA volunteers to do. “If your house has been downed and is gone, you don’t go cut up trees.” The EF-4 tornado that hit Fairdale reportedly affected every home or structure in the unincorporated community—40 to 50 buildings. Two people were killed during the storm.

Rochelle_recovery_2For the response in Rochelle, Alexander wanted to publicly acknowledge the assistance of Brad Pittman, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Davis Junction. “He gave us most of his day on Friday and introduced us to homeowners he knows in the area that we were able to go in and help.”

Many recent disaster relief callouts have been in the southern part of the state. Alexander said this callout “was a good opportunity for northern teams to work in their own backyard.”

The Illinois teams finished their work Saturday afternoon.

A disaster relief training weekend is scheduled this Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, at Streator Baptist Camp. Online registration is closed, but anyone interested in participating can call Alexander’s ministry assistant, Alexis Dumire, to register over at (217) 391-3142.

The Illinois Baptist State Association has nearly 1,000 Southern Baptist member churches and missions in Illinois. IBSA’s main office is in Springfield and it was established in 1907. Southern Baptists operate the nation’s third-largest disaster relief organization, behind only the Red Cross and Salvation Army. To learn more about IBSA Disaster Relief, visit http://www.IBSA.org/dr.


Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.