Resource center for tornado victims opens in Ottawa

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Resource center for tornado victims opens in Ottawa
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One week ago, deadly tornadoes touched down in the towns of Ottawa and Naplate.

OTTAWA, Ill. (WLS) -- One week ago, deadly tornadoes touched down in the Illinois towns of Ottawa and Naplate. Since then, people from near and far are joining forces to bring supplies to those who lost everything.

It's been a week since the tornado outbreak that devastated parts of Ottawa and Naplate. This town of 600 remains closed to anyone other cleanup crews and residents as the work continues to make it safe again.

"As of this morning we had 80 percent of the trees and rubbish cleaned up and hauled out. And 70 percent of the building debris. We hope to finish that up today," Naplate Mayor Jim Rick said.

Aid to those affected by the tornadoes is still pouring in. Motivated by a desire to help those in need, Oak Lawns Alan Saiz used Facebook to recruit others to his cause. On Tuesday, he was able to fill this truck with goods and deliver them to Ottawa's resource center.

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Home destroyed in Naplate, Ill., on Feb. 28, 2017.
Credit: @MSmall1969

"We had a lot of likes and 15,000 views in like two days and donations just started showing up. They kept pouring in water, canned, food, boxes of cereal, toilet paper," Saiz said.

Managed by the American Red Cross, a resource center opened Tueday with the objective not only of handing out collected goods, but also bringing together over 20 private and public agencies that can help those affected with everything from basic necessities, to housing and employment.

"When the client leaves here today he or she should feel pretty good. They have everything they can get here that can help them get to the next level. What we call their long term recovery," said Charlotte Hazel, American Red Cross.

Naplate resident Kim French is among those seeking assistance. Her house is among those completely destroyed by the tornado.

"I just made it. It was in my house as i was making my way down into the basement," tornado survivor Kim French said. "We lost it all. We don't have anything but clothes. Pretty much all we have is clothes."

The resource center will be open Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.