Red Cross Helps Families Day and Night in Coal City

_MG_9805As dawn broke the morning after a tornado outbreak ripped across Illinois, residents woke with the challenge all survivors of devastating storms face. Where to turn for help?

The American Red Cross, Governor Pat Quinn and state emergency management officials banded together to tell people relief is coming, because help is on the way. “We’re all in this together, we’re a team,” said Quinn.

_MG_9759As the team fanned out across affected regions, the arm of the Red Cross reached out to families in Coal City. People were up early to begin assessing damage to their homes.  Red Cross emergency response vehicles carrying supplies like blankets, water and doughnuts winded through debris-lined streets. On board were volunteers Rich Arons and Diana Spathis.  They saw a lot of community strength under the rubble. Still, when the unavoidable fatigue settled over the neighborhoods later in the day, the two disaster mental health specialists provided a pivotal break to help people push through it by taking time to talk over a cup of coffee.

Inside Rachetti’s Café and Pizzeria downtown, Mark Evans was prepping for a special_MG_9789 Red Cross delivery. The day before, Mark was grilling burgers, one of his favorite dishes to cook. When he saw the funnel cloud, he forgot the food and hustled the handful of customers and employees though the kitchen to safety. Today, Mark took extra care and found new meaning in preparing dinner. The Red Cross was sending volunteers to distribute the food to families who no longer had working kitchens of their own.

For teenager Zach Hajduk that calzone never tasted so good. Zach is sleeping in the dining room until the roof over his bedroom is repaired. Now sleeping where he should be eating, and eating outside; Zach and his family were grateful the Red Cross found the path to his door and extend a hand to help.

Written by Patricia Kemp

Photos by Gerry Holmes

Were you affected by storms in the Central U.S.? Let us know you are OK!

Storm Ravaged Residents Urged to Register with Safe and Well!
People in storm ravaged communities across the Central United States are urged to register themselves and their loved ones on the Safe and Well website, to allow family and friends around the country know of their status. Safe and Well is an easy way to assist people seeking to locate those who’ve registered their status during this emergency.
The Red Cross has developed this online tool to help families and individuals notify loved ones that they are safe during an emergency. Letting your family know that you are safe during an emergency can bring great peace of mind.
The Safe and Well website is easy to use:
  1. Visit, and click on the Safe and Well link.
  2. If you are currently being affected by these disasters, click: “List Myself as Safe and Well”, enter your pre-disaster address and phone number, and select any of the standard message options.
  3. If you are concerned about a loved one, click “Search” and enter the person’s name and pre-disaster phone number OR address. If they have registered, you will be able to view the messages that they posted.
  4. If you don’t have internet access, you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register yourself and your family. Follow the prompts for disaster information. The Red Cross is currently providing disaster relief throughout several states dealing with the onslaught of rain, tornadoes, flooding and other disasters, offering sheltering, feeding, emergency assistance and other support.