Dozens of Iowans who volunteer for disaster duty with the American Red Cross are heading for Illinois where multiple tornadoes hit Sunday. The Red Cross’ national office is asking for all Iowa-based emergency response vehicles, or ERVs, to get to Illinois as soon as possible. Kara Kelly, spokeswoman for the central Iowa chapter, says all five of their ERVs will be heading east, with the first one leaving this morning. The others will go as soon as crews are assembled.
“It’s important to note that this is a two-week commitment so, over the holidays, that’s a big thing to ask of people,” Kelly says, “but I’m sure with this kind of relief effort, we’ll have lots of people who want to step forward and go.” As many as 77 twisters touched down across the Midwest over several hours Sunday afternoon. At least six people were killed in Illinois, dozens injured and hundreds had damage to their homes.
Kelly says the Iowa volunteers in the ERVs will be passing out hot meals, snacks and bottled water. “Mostly what they’ll be doing is the mobile feeding in the response vehicles,” Kelly says. “A lot of times they’ll also provide clean-up kits, so equipment to help people clean up their homes.” The storms dumped heavy rain on Iowa Sunday morning but there are no reports of any tornado touchdowns here.
The large weather system turned violent in Illinois, doing significant destruction near Peoria in Washington, Illinois. Entire blocks were wiped out. Kelly says the agency is offering beds and meals, for now. “We do have shelters open in Illinois as there are hundreds of people displaced,” Kelly says. “It’s important to get in there and get those immediate needs taken care of.”
The strong band of storms brought tornadoes and wind damage to many other states, including: Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. Kelly says Iowans who want to offer financial help can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. “You can do that in three simple ways: going to RedCross.org, or calling 800-Red-Cross, you can also do the $10 text donation on your phone bill by texting “Red Cross” to 90999.”