Coal City, Diamond schools open 2 days after tornado strikes south of Chicago

While residents salvage what they can after Sunday's tornadoes, volunteers are helping with supplies.
November 19, 2013 2:54:31 PM PST
As students in Coal City and Diamond return to school, neighbors are helping neighbors pick up the pieces just days after a tornado swept through the towns.

Washington IL Tornado Damage Photos from Chopper 7HD
PHOTOS: Storm, tornado damage in Frankfort, Washington, Pekin, Coal City, Illinois

The tornado struck on Sunday, ripping up buildings, trees and power lines and scattering debris for many miles. The EF2 tornado had winds between 111 mph and 135 mph. More than 120 homes were damaged.

"Volunteers have been coming in from all over the state and you'll see them and it's heartwarming and we're grateful for them," Diamond Mayor Teresa Kernc.

Ed Bischoff's home on Laura Lane in Diamond had some damage, but not much compared to those of his neighbors. He's delivering food, water and supplies to those who need it through his church.

"They need it, you know. You always hear people come together and I don't know if people believe it or not but it's really true," Bischoff said.

On Tuesday, trucks hauled away piles of debris, insurance investigators assessed damages, and people boarded up damaged buildings.

"As you can see, there is still quite a bit of debris throughout the area. A lot of it was cleaned up yesterday. We've had a lot of assistance from a lot waste management contracts along with "D" Construction which has been fantastic about bringing trucks out here helping with the debris clean up," Nick Doerfler, Coal City Fire Protection, said.

Kids, counselors return to school

Classes are back in session for students in the Unit One School District, where they were canceled Monday because several school buses were damaged. Counselors are at school to talk to the students, some of whom lost their homes.

"We're meeting with our teachers this morning to make sure they keep their eyes open for any kids that may be traumatized," Dr. Kent Bugg, Unit 1 school superintendent, said.

Students in one kindergarten class drew pictures showing where they were when the big storm hit.

"We have been trying to identify families that have been directly impacted and reaching out directly to them and hopefully we learn more about today," Dr. Bugg said. "Our student services department, which is our social workers, guidance counselors and psychologists, are available today."

Tom Cirrencione's five children are staying with friends while he tries to rebuild their Diamond home. It could take up to six months for repairs.

"You can't really make it better, but I tell them the house will be brand-new and now they're looking forward to it," Cirrencione said. "They see the damage. They cried. They're kids. It's going to happen."

Psychologists say after tornadoes kids may experience nightmares, anxiety and trouble sleeping. The emotional effects could last for weeks or longer, and experts say a little comfort from adults can go a long way.


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