(COAL CITY, IL) – At sunrise Diann and Gary Rink would pick fresh kale out of their garden to mix a smoothie. The morning of June 22 was the last time that breakfast ritual would occur for the Coal City couple for a while. They no longer have a kitchen, or walls, or the home where they lived since 2007.
The couple grabbed their phones, an iPad and two flashlights and hid in the basement until they felt it was safe to come out. They
heard neighbors crying, but no one was hurt. They’re now staying with family until they can rebuild their home.
“It was such a beautiful home,” said Diann.
The Rinks have been here before, less than two years ago when they saw another tornado coming at them before it turned and hit sister city Diamond in November 2013. Back then, the Rinks joined relief efforts to support the community. Now the community is coming out to support them in Coal City.
“Small towns are great for helping people out,” said Diann.
In many ways the Red Cross is like a small town. When disaster strikes, volunteers move in. Strangers at first, but quickly become a neighbor and a friend.
With open arms, volunteers help people who lived through a disaster cope with the anguish and give them hope. They lead survivors through twisted terrain in a town that used to look familiar.
Volunteers are a compassionate shoulder to cry on and a calm, comforting ear willing to listen. They make sure people have true, basic survival needs met like food and shelter in the immediate aftermath of a storm.
In the following days, weeks and even months later – the Red Cross community is still there helping families map out long- term recovery plans and access the resources they need to get back on their feet, and plant a new garden.
GIVE HELP After a disaster, financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most. If you would like to help those affected by disasters like the recent Illinois tornado outbreak, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
Story By: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois
Photos By: dirkfletcher.com