More than a dozen Red Cross volunteers from Iowa have spent nearly one week in areas of Illinois that were leveled by tornadoes on November 17. Most of those volunteers will remain on duty through the Thanksgiving holiday. Lisbon residents Anne and Kenneth Opatz have been distributing supplies from an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) in Gifford, Illinois.

“Personal belongings that are destroyed are laying in yards and farm fields are full of debris,” Anne Opatz said. The small town of 1,000 had 40 homes destroyed and 200 damaged. “When we first got here on Tuesday, at that time it was a town without electricity and a town without water. But it’s looking a lot better, every day makes a difference,” Opatz said.

The National Weather Service reported today that a total of 24 tornadoes hit Illinois on November 17, while 28 struck Indiana. In Illinois, the storms killed six people and injured nearly 150 others. Anne Opatz was a guest on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River program. She and her husband are retired and decided to volunteer for the Red Cross after Anne’s family was on the receiving end of help following the Floods of 2008.