HEARTLAND | Morgan Jackson
After severe storms swept across Northern Illinois June 22, several of the state’s Disaster Relief teams moved quickly to respond. By June 24, four volunteers were in Coal City to meet with homeowners and assess damage. More than 50 volunteers on chainsaw teams from Salem South, Capital City and Three Rivers Associations worked over the next few days while staying at First Baptist Church, Coal City.
On June 30, IBSA’s Disaster Relief Coordinator Rex Alexander got word of a new need in the community of Sublette, which was hit by a tornado on the same evening as Coal City.
“This area has been closed off to volunteers due to safety issues of gas leaks and electrical wires being down,” Alexander reported. “They are now opening up this area and requesting assistance for a large number of chainsaw jobs…” Alexander also was working to recruit assessors and chaplains to work in the area. The response was expected to begin Monday, July 6.
Outside Illinois, recent flooding in Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma caused severe water damage in many communities. The first of several waves of ministry teams from Illinois arrived in Colorado June 15.
Don Ile, from Greater Wabash Association, was supposed to lead his team to Colorado Springs. But storm-related issues and a tornado forced them to Berthoud, about 50 miles from Denver.
Another Illinois team from Williamson Association, led by Jerry Cruse, was delayed in arrival. But after staying overnight in Kansas, they were able to get to Colorado and start work.
Before arriving, Ile said they didn’t know what to expect. “We’ve been told there are major water problems; they’ve had at least a couple tornadoes…possibly some chainsaw work and tree situations, but more flooding than anything. People are happy we’re coming. We just hope to accomplish what some of their needs are right now.”
After a couple days on the job, Cruse said, “Our team draws closer to God all the time as we’re helping people. We just pray others grow close to him too through seeing us work and our interactions.”
While taking a break, Ile described his current view: beautiful, snowcapped mountains to the west, sunshine, perfect weather. But a booming thunderstorm the night before was a poignant reminder to the team why they were there, despite the picturesque landscape.
Their first task involved moving a large amount of a homeowner’s belongings in order to strip all carpet on the lower level. They faced a number of problems: no dumpster, stopping the spread of mold, not being able to power wash.
Ile sounded in good spirits, though. “Every house has its own challenges, but we’re doing good, we’re getting there.”
Both teams said God was certainly good to them during their travels, and that their goal was to help as many families as possible during their time in Colorado.
For more information about Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief, go to www.IBSA.org/dr.