Red Cross Community Cares for Coal City

18994466700_a091117fee_o(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.

“I heard sirens go off and felt enormous pressure in my ears,” Gary said. “I heard a loud bang and stuff was flying all around.”19140334322_829d1f830f_o

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.

18559649984_be9ce320a0_oThe 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.

“People need to lean on each other in hard times,” said Red Cross volunteer and shelter manager Joyce Cook. “Volunteers18525502083_ea593c96d5_o are people who care. That’s just at the heart of who we are and what we do.”

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.

19119823286_64587bee30_oNEED HELP? If you’ve been affected the Northern Illinois Tornadoes and Storms call our Red Cross call center 312-729-6250.

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

Teamwork For Disaster Relief in Grundy County

18523526044_1d6e0c995f_o (1)(COAL CITY, IL) – Joe and Sue Blaine were having the time of their life celebrating their son’s wedding in Cancun. The next day—on June 22—a neighbor back home in Coal City sent photos and a text message: “It looks a lot worse than the pictures.”

The Blaines took the first flight they could get out of Mexico. Their usually quiet neighborhood looked like a bomb went off. Tree limbs and debris were scattered on the street. Joe’s truck was flipped on the side and landed in the front yard. Their house, where the couple raised their two sons, no longer had a roof.

“That’s what really hurts,” said Joe, of the home that he and his father-in-law built together in 1985.18525428793_e90894180c_o

“I had two life-changing events with two extremes: My son got married and my house was destroyed,” said Sue.

Enter the Red Cross disaster relief team that arrived to check on families after the storm to see how they were coping and what help they needed.

Joe and Sue invited us in their home to survey the damage. Sue stopped to wipe her feet on the welcome mat stepping over a large hose pumping water out of the hallway.

“I don’t know why I keep doing that,” she laughed. “Habit, I guess.” She picked up a broken flower pot on the floor in the living room. “I don’t know who this belongs to.”

In the back of the house where the family gathers to watch TV at night was a large wooden fence post that railroaded through the glass door. If the Blaines were home the night of the storm, they could have been seriously hurt.

Yet, there were some things the storm didn’t touch – Sue’s wedding china in the dining room and photos of her sons’ graduation19119885116_284982719a_o
pictures from Coal City High School. The storm even blew over the “trophy room” in the garage where wooden replicas of the boys’ baseball jerseys, team photos, and White Sox memorabilia live on the wall.

Back outside a neighbor dragged over a long, twisted piece of metal that landed in the Blaine’s backyard – a bleacher from the high school ball field a few blocks away that the proud parents likely a sat on a few years ago to cheer their sons to victory.

The road to recovery isn’t easy. It’s going to take longer than a baseball season for the families of Coal City, like the Blaines, to claim victory over this storm, but there’s a lot of teamwork at play.

19149516651_14da2cd5e0_o“The community has our support with the help of our many partnering agencies, we’re throwing all our resources at this disaster to give people the care and comfort they need,” said Ken Cozzi, Executive Director, American Red Cross of the Southwest Suburbs.

NEED HELP? If you’ve been affected the Northern Illinois Tornadoes and Storms call our Red Cross call center 312-729-6250.

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 www.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