Diamond continues recovery after Illinois tornado

Crews continued the cleanup in the Grundy County town of Diamond, where dozens of homes were badly damaged.
November 20, 2013 5:55:02 PM PST
Crews continued the cleanup in the Grundy County town of Diamond, where dozens of homes were badly damaged.

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

Students are back to class in Diamond and neighboring Coal City. Counselors were on hand to help students cope with the tornado trauma. Younger children drew pictures of where they were when the storm hit.

The cleanup and recovery is far from over. For those people who are able to live in their homes, ComEd says power has been restored to 99 percent of those who lost it Sunday.

Families have been tireless to salvage what they can and clean up their homes.

There's been an outpouring of support for the tornado victims. Cleaning supplies, personal care items and the like fill nearly every room at the United Methodist Church in Coal City.

Anyone can stop by and pick up what they need. People have been so generous that the church says right now they're really not accepting more items, unless you have something you've already purchased.

Otherwise, you are asked to donate gift cards or cash.

On Tuesday, volunteers loaded onto busses, donning orange vests. They were taken to the hardest hit parts of Diamond, where they picked up debris from people's yards. Some Chicago Bears also came out to lend a hand. Robbie Gould visited Kaura Lane in the Diamond Estates subdivision. Gould and four other players and Bears alumni joined up with the Red Cross to support the relief efforts.

About 220 homes and buildings were damaged from Sunday's tornado, according to the mayor, and 75 of them have major damage.

Four local organizations will provide funding to local tornado victims who can pick up applications at the Diamond Banquet Hall from 8 a.m. until noon Wednesday. Applicants are asked to bring proof of residency, also some pictures of their damaged homes, and organizers say the plan say is to help those who have been hit hardest first.

Mari and Jason Eaton have been forced out of their home in Diamond because of major damage. Their daughter was only 3-days-old when the tornado came through Sunday.

"It means everything. I mean, the help we have gotten has been overwhelming," Mari Eaton said. "We have been so overwhelmed by all the generosity and I feel as if we're almost not deserving of it."

The tornado struck on Sunday, ripping up buildings, trees and power lines and scattering debris for many miles. The EF-2 tornado had winds between 111 mph and 135 mph.

"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," said 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.

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