Tuesday, November 19, 2013

EXTRA: Death toll up to 8, recovery efforts will be active for awhile

Between the time I wrote a weather-related commentary and the time you read this, the death toll in Illinois due to Sunday’s severe storms (winds of up to 190 miles per hour, in some places), the death toll climbed to 8 people.

Which is still small, considering how large a swath of Illinois got impacted.

LARGE ENOUGH THAT early Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn added added six more counties to the list of those that are now officially state disaster areas. Those include Will County that makes up the far south suburban portion of metro Chicago.

But it doesn’t change the fact that this was primarily a storm that devastated rural Illinois communities, and that we in Chicago ought to feel fortunate that we didn’t get hit harder.

In all as of Tuesday morning, there were 13 counties on the state disaster list – which is a designation that doesn’t mean much in itself. But in order to qualify as a federal disaster area (which is what provides all the outside aid to help rebuild), the state must first make a declaration.

“While the recovery will be long and hard, we will work in the coming days, weeks and months to assist these communities and help the people who live there rebuild their lives,” Quinn said, in a prepared statement.

IT WILL BE just a matter of days (possibly by week’s end when we stop getting bombarded every news cycle with the same images of devastation from places like Washington (which seems to be the favorite for TV news crews, possibly because Peoria isn’t that far away). But places like Gifford, Diamond and New Minden (also downstate Illinois communities) also got whacked pretty hard.

Not that anybody with a civic conscience ought to be headed there. Because the reality is that anybody who thinks they can help out with the relief effort would really be doing nothing more than getting in the way of the cleanup crews. People who think they can seriously help ought to contact the Red Cross, or Washington city government at (309) 563-4035 to let the locals know of their availability.

They should be aware of the reality that while the news coverage will soon move on, the need for relief will be ongoing for months as people try to rebuild the lives for themselves that they suddenly lost in a few seconds on Sunday.


No comments: