(COAL CITY, IL) – Rick and Patty Colclasure were frantic when they couldn’t reach their daughter on her cell phone the night a tornado struck their neighborhood in Coal City on June 22nd.
“I just kept thinking ‘My kids! Where are my kids!’ ” Patty recalled. Emerging from their crawl space after the storm, they found their house blown half to pieces.
After walking 45 minutes in the dark and rain, the couple breathed a sigh of relief learning their daughter’s family was safe. But Rick knew he had to check on his other neighbors, too. He ran door to door asking if everyone was ok, even taking his 80-year old neighbor into to his own home.
They know what it means to help a neighbor in need. Less than two years ago, they volunteered at after a devastating tornado ripped through their sister town of Diamond, IL. “It feels so good to help other people, even though we are now on the other end of it,” said Patty.
“At first you’re just thinking about your own house, your life. But the more you look around, the more your awareness expands. It’s about your whole community. They are your family.”
Just hours after the storm, Red Cross response vehicles circled neighborhood streets delivering hot coffee, snacks and water to residents whose lives had been turned upside down overnight.
“We’ve gone through a lot. But that cup of coffee reconnected me to humanity,” Rick said. “For a second we felt like we were back to normal. It made me cry.”
Story by Katie Wilkes, Marketing Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois