November 22, 2013 Update


Two legendary rock groups have announced they will perform a Dec. 4 benefit concert at Bloomington’s U.S. Cellular Coliseum for central Illinois storm victims.


REO Speedwagon and Styx will headline “Rock to the Rescue Extends a Hand to Those in Need,” with proceeds going to affected families in area communities hit by Sunday’s devastating tornadoes and storms.

Also appearing at the 7 p.m. concert will be a roster of special guests to be announced. Tickets are $28 to $58, and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at

“The good people of Illinois lent support and a helping hand to every artist on this bill at different times in their respective careers, and we owe a tremendous debt,” Styx guitarist and Illinois native James Young said in statement Thursday.

“It’s our turn to ask what we can do for this great state,” he added. “And the best way we know to help those in need is to get on stage and let the incredible healing power of music play its part in rebuilding Illinois."

Rock to the Rescue is a nonprofit organization founded 12 years ago by Styx’s Tommy Shaw and REO’s Kevin Cronin as the result of 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Recently, the group raised $108,000, on behalf of the Boston One Fund helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Said Cronin, “I am Illinois born and bred. REO Speedwagon is an Illinois band. The word ‘Illinois’ is music to me. The utter devastation and human suffering is Washington and the surrounding area is heartbreaking. I believe that we need to take care of our own … the people of Illinois are our own, and we are theirs.”

Here’s a summary of where things are as of this morning (Friday, Nov. 22):

Coal City/Diamond Area:  Coal City UMC is acting as a response center for disaster response. Hours for donations to be dropped off are:  8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  To inquire about donations of time and service, contact the Volunteer Call Center at 815-518-3061. This phone number is not for monetary donations or donations of goods.

A Facebook page has been established as a help desk for the disaster:

Pekin:  Cleanup efforts continue today.  FEMA began assessment on Thursday.  Heavy equipment has been brought into the neighborhoods to remove debris. The area is expected to reopen this weekend.

Two families from Pekin Grace UMC were affected.  Cleanup continues and the community is still under a curfew. There is no information on a callup of early responders or volunteer teams at this time.

Washington:  Residents in affected areas will be able to access their properties today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.  Monday and Tuesday will be locked down for debris removal and demoition.

Residents and their friends will be allowed to access affected areas on Friday. Insurance adjustors will also be allowed to access these areas on Friday. Beginning on Saturday, volunteers will also be available to assist residents with clean up. It is recommended that residents remove as many personal belongings as possible over the weekend. If you can, please move debris into a pile at the curb for removal.

Response teams will be allowed to assist residents with cleanup on Saturday and Sunday.   Although volunteers have yet to be given the go-ahead, response teams must register at the Washington Chamber of Commerce through AmeriCorps, which is coordinating disaster response teams.  To register a team, call 309-698-5003. Because of the devastation, most of the homes are destroyed; no building contractors are being allowed in until cleanup is complete.

The curfew that has been in place will be lifted beginning this evening. After tonight, no curfew will be in effect during the evening hours; however, access to affected properties that are considered uninhabitable will only be granted during the days and times listed above. No access to the uninhabitable properties will be allowed after 5 p.m. on these days.

FEMA began damage assessments Thursday. These assessments will continue until complete. Information for residents to register their property with FEMA will be forthcoming. According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, more than 1,000 homes in the Washington area have sustained major damage or been destroyed.

Crossroads UMC is serving as the community’s nerve center for disaster response.  The congregation has cancelled all church activities for the immediate future with all of its staff and resources devoted to providing disaster response. Beginning Friday, the church will be serving a free noon meal each day after having served three meals daily since Monday.

The Red Cross is also sheltering 28 people in the building.

Various agencies, including Ameren, Verizon, the Secretary of State’s office and various insurance companies have all established tables in a converted all-purpose room to provide “one-stop shopping” with disaster response.  Medical personnel are also on-hand to provide basic medical care.

The Heartland Chapter, Salvation Army is coordinating relief donations at Crossroads.

East Peoria:  Early responder teams are beginning their work this morning.  An active callup for Early Response Teams (trained, background-checked, and badged) has been issued. Earlier this week, IGRC ERT Trainer Steve Schoeffel contacted those that have the UMCOR training which would enable them to assist in this callup asking about availability dates for working disaster sites. If you have not been contacted and are badged through UMCOR, please email your dates of availability to Steve at The first teams will be going into East Peoria as early as Friday morning (Nov.22).

East Peoria First UMC is part of an ecumenical response, serving as a Red Cross Shelter. Rev. Mary Arnold said much of the church’s effort has been in listing to the stories of victims and distributing materials and supplies as well as gathering information which will assist caseworkers later.

Glad Tidings Assembly of God is serving as the center for volunteers and the Baptist Church is managing the supply donations at the community’s Expo Center.

Gifford:  UMCOR-trained Early Response Teams from the Iroquois River and Vermilion River districts continue their work which began Wednesday, assisting residents in cleanup and sorting of items from damaged homes.  Ron Monroe, who is coordinating the response reported  18 ERT members split into six-member teams in Gifford.  Work is beginning to slow with probably only a day or two left for response teams.

FEMA assessments were completed Thursday.

County Health Care and Rehab Center in Gifford is a shelter. Power is still out in Gifford, so a generator is being run at the Lutheran Church in Gifford where soup and sandwiches are being served. Because of the potential of downed power lines and gas leaks, the town is still closed to general access.

Rantoul First UMC has an emergency drop-off center in the Gathering Place, operating from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  The church has already received food, water, cleaning and hygiene supplies, diapers, toilet paper, blankets and clothing.  There has been an immediate call for plastic totes (containers with lids) for families trying to save belongings from damaged homes in Gifford.  Totes and all supplies can go to Rantoul First UMC. 

St. Elmo:  The St. Elmo Ministerial Alliance is having a fundraiser Saturday to help the three families who lost their homes, which included one United Methodist family.  Three other families at St. Elmo First UMC also sustained damage and were among the 17 homes destroyed. The fundraiser will be at the St. Elmo Christian Church beginning at 4 p.m.  A prayer and worship service will be held at the Christian Church beginning at 6 p.m.

New Minden:  Relief work headed by the Lutheran Church continues in New Minden.   St. John's Lutheran Church in New Minden tentatively plans to hold its weekend services in the basement of the church's school building, the church's pastor said Tuesday.  The church suffered heavy damage to its roof, and lost its steeple, when a tornado moved through town.  Services are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.

No decisions have been made yet regarding repairing or rebuilding the church and the church’s priority is on helping the 10 local families whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Gift cards are being collected for the families. They can be dropped off during the next day or so at the school building, which is serving as sort of a command post, or can be mailed to: St. John's Lutheran Church, 15538 State Route 127, Nashville, IL, 62263.

Brookport and Unionville:   Early response teams from the Cache River District and District Superintendent Roger Russell have been in Brookport since Wednesday. Rev. Ed Hoke and Rev. Pete Ryan are coordinating the United Methodist response in Brookport and Unionville.

Bob Morwell, pastor of Carterville UMC, was on site Thursday and gave this report:

“Just came from Brookport, where three people were killed, and another was criticially injured. Despite the death toll, it has gotten little national attention, because it is small, and in a smaller media market. Fortunately, the church is there, even if the networks aren't. I saw several Early Response Team members from the Cache River District, as well as our Superintendent. Even though we haven't had a church there for some time, the UMC has not forgotten Brookport.”

Brookport UMC closed in June 2008.

The Brookport cleanup effort will be receiving response teams again Saturday.  Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the old Veach’s station at the junction of Illinois 145 and U.S. Highway 45.

Volunteers are asked to bring their own tools, gloves and food and drink. Dress for work and the weather. Wear work shoes fit for rough conditions and bring supplies to be self-sufficient.  The registration process may take time. Volunteers will be matched with assignments in affected areas.

Because of inclement weather, no volunteers are requested for today, Perry County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator David Searby said. There will be no registration or reception for volunteers.

Tornado victims are encouraged to register their needs at the Brookport City Council Chambers; today’s registration is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A secondary assessment conducted Wednesday found additional damage caused by the tornado.

In total, 233 properties were damaged, Searby said.  Of those, 184 were in Brookport and 49 in the county.  A total of 76 residences were deemed a total loss; 27 are uninhabitable with-out extensive repairs; 74 are habitable with a few repairs; and 56 are habitable without immediate repairs.

Federal and state officials began preliminary damage assessments in the Massac County Thursday and will complete them today.

The U.S. 45 Irvin Cobb Bridge spanning the Ohio River at Brookport re-opened at noon Thursday. Officials were requesting drivers avoid Brookport if possible.

First Baptist Church in Brookport (618-564-2772) and Mt. Sterling Presbyterian Church, just outside Brookport (618-564-2616) are coordinating supply donations. Contact the church to get a current list of urgently needed items.