Disaster Relief call-outs keep Illinois volunteers busy

Lisa Misner —  July 16, 2015
Disaster Relief volunteers clean up tornado damage at Woodhaven Lakes Camping Resort in Sublette.

Disaster Relief volunteers clean up tornado damage at Woodhaven Lakes Camping Resort in Sublette.

HEARTLAND | IBSA Disaster Relief volunteers are busy serving and ministering at home in Illinois and on the east coast in July.

Disaster Relief chainsaw teams will continue their work next week at Woodhaven Lakes Camping Resort. On June 22 an EF-2 tornado tore through the private camping resort in Sublette, a community two hours west of Chicago.

Hundreds of downed trees and limbs still need to be cleared and removed from several properties.

Many residents don’t have insurance and those who do, have found the damage is not covered by their policy. “People were really overwhelmed,” shared Debbie Porter, a member of the FBC Galatia Chainsaw Team that served there from July 6-11. “They’ve greeted us with open arms and embraced us. They can’t believe we came to help for free.”

The FBC Galatia team was joined by chainsaw teams from Greater Wabash, Salem South, Sinnissippi, Three Rivers and Williamson Associations. The 50 volunteers completed 65 jobs while in Sublette.

Teams from Salem South and Three Rivers Associations will join with teams from FBC Harrisburg and Sullivan Southern July 20-25 to finish the work the previous teams started.

“Once you start a response it is always an extra blessing if you can finish it,” shared Rex Alexander, Illinois State Disaster Relief Coordinator. “We anticipate about 120 volunteers working together to bring help, healing, and hope to this community.” Alexander estimates at least 150 jobs remain to be completed.

Teams from Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee will bring bucket trucks, shower trailers and chainsaws next week to assist the Illinois teams. Lodging for volunteers will be provided by Northside Baptist in Dixon, Victory Baptist in Mendota, and FBC La Moille.

Alexander said the Illinois teams still need additional trained volunteers to help. “We could use some additional individuals to fill out some of our chainsaw teams, serve as chaplains, and serve as assessors,” he noted. “We could also use one or two more tractors and operators. Most jobs at Woodhaven involve cutting huge trees (sometimes on top of structures or tangled together). Moving these trees to the curb after they are cut up involves a significant amount of human labor. Teams with tractors, bobcats, or skid steers can accomplish the work much faster than teams without this heavy equipment.”

Meanwhile, IBSA Disaster Relief feeding teams are serving this week and next in Long Island, NY in support of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuild Ministry. Fifteen volunteers are feeding mission teams there to rebuild homes damaged by the hurricane, which devastated parts of New Jersey and New York in October 2012. The volunteers from churches around the state will serve through July 26.

If you are a trained IBSA Disaster Relief volunteer and would like to help at Woodhaven Lake Camping Resort in Sublette, e-mail Alexander at RexAlexander@IBSA.org or call (217) 391-134.

Disaster relief call-outs are expensive with many teams coming from the southern part of the state and Alexander said any monetary donations would be appreciated. To donate online go to www.IBSA.org and click on the “Donate” link. Checks may be mailed to IBSA Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 19247, Springfield, IL 62794-6247.

If you would like to become an IBSA Disaster Relief volunteer, the next training opportunity is October 9-10 at Lake Sallateeska Baptist Camp. Visit www.IBSA.org/dr or call (217) 391-142 for more information.

Lisa Misner


Lisa is IBSA Social Media/Public Policy Manager. A Missouri native, she earned a Master of Arts in Communications from the University of Illinois. Her writing has received awards from the Baptist Communicators Association and the Evangelical Press Association.