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Disaster relief available; more coming

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Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday declared seven Illinois counties, including Tazewell and Woodford counties, as state disaster areas.

That news came just before Quinn toured several of the areas hit by tornadoes on Sunday, including Washington, the hardest hit community as it lost as many as 500 homes as the result of an EF4 tornado.

Statewide, six people died and dozens more were injured. Thousands were left without electricity.

In central Illinois, one fatality was reported. Steve Neubauer, 51, of Washington, was found dead just outside his home of School Street. An autopsy to determine the cause of death was scheduled for Monday.

"Yesterday Illinois was hit extremely hard by deadly tornadoes that left many in a great deal of pain and loss," Quinn said. "Although we are still receiving reports of massive damage to communities across our state, we want to make sure people are getting the assistance and resources they need as quickly as possible. As we pray for the families of those who have lost their lives and others who are injured, the state of Illinois will do everything necessary to help these communities recover."

The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state of Illinois has personnel and assets that can be mobilized to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including such things as trucks, heavy equipment to remove debris, communications equipment and provide assistance with security and other public safety issues, the governor's office said in a news release.

The State Incident Response Center (SIRC) in Springfield was activated Sunday afternoon and will remain operational as long as necessary. Liaisons from several state agencies are working with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to coordinate the deployment of state personnel and assets to assist local governments in the affected areas.

The state has dispatched technical rescue teams to a number of impacted locations across the state, and provided emergency generators, light towers and communications systems.

Throughout the Peoria area donations are being accepted to help those affected by the tornadoes. Items such as household goods, non-perishable food items, infant supplies and baby formular, toiletries, clearning supplies and clothing are being accepted. Among the businesses taking in donations are the 17 offices of Jim Maloof REALTOR, the Peoria Area Assocation of REALTORS, Apricot Lane in Peoria and Bloomington, Double A's Pizza in Peoria, the Fusion Building at 335 Sabella St. in Pekin, Inspired Arts Academy in Morton, Castaways in Chillicothe, the Farmington Fire Department, and others. Find them on Facebook.

To find what items are needed and other places to take them visit the Washington IL Tornado Recovery page on Facebook.

Facebook is filled with information about other services being offered to the victims, including that Schnuck's in Pekin and Peoria are offering refrigeration space to people without electricity so they don't lose their perishable items. (Just bring the food in a clearly marked cooler or container).

Several churches are offering free meals to those affected, including Glad Tidings Assembly of God and St. Peter's Lutheran Church, both in East Peoria. So is Montgomery Café on Spring Bay Road in Bay View Garden and Countryside Banquet Center in Washington.

Titan Fitness in Sunnyland Plaza is offering hot showers.

Mobile Maxx Storage and Moving is offering free delivery and storage with its mobile units. Visiti www.mobile-maxx.com.

The Red Cross has set up shelters at Crossroads United Methodist Church, 1420 N. Main St. in Washington; Evangelical United Methodist Church, 401 N. Main St. in Washington; First United Methodist Church, 154 E. Washington St. in East Peoria; Avanti's Dome at 3105 Griffin Ave. in Pekin and Community Health & Rehab in Gifford.

Bradley Sears, a counselor with an office at Junction City Shopping Center, is offering free counseling to anyone affected by the storms. To make an appointment call (309) 740-7027 or visit www.bradleytherapy.com.

Those wanting to give money to help may do so through the Red Cross,
(800) RED CROSS or www.redcross.org, or the Salvation Army at www.saheartland.org. Checks payable to The Salvation Army and marked "November Tornado Relief" may be mailed to The Salvation Army at 401 NE Adams St., Peoria, Ill., 61603.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).