LIVE from Gifford Thursday

LIVE from Gifford Thursday

Today, we'll be adding updates related to the Gifford tornado recovery efforts to this story.

REO to the rescue

BLOOMINGTON — Tickets go on sale Saturday for a concert headlined by local rock heroes REO Speedwagon as a benefit for tornado victims.

On Dec. 4, REO and Styx will perform at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington for Rock To The Rescue Extends A Hand To Those In Need.

REO was founded in 1967 by University of Illinois students, though the lineup has gone through many changes.

The band has charted 13 Top 40 hits, including "Keep On Loving You" and "Can't Fight This Feeling."

Funds from the concert will be earmarked for affected families in central Illinois communities that were left reeling in the wake of tornadoes and high winds.

Tickets for the performance go on sale at 10 a.m. for $58, $43 and $28 (and applicable service charges).

More information is at

Donations to Rock to the Rescue can be made at

Help with SNAP benefits

The Illinois Department of Human Services on Thursday announced assistance for SNAP households affected by last weekend's deadly tornadoes. In light of the tornadoes that devastated 18 Illinois counties, IDHS will issue replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for food that was destroyed in the disaster.

"Many families lost everything in the tornadoes and we are pleased to be able to offer immediate food assistance to qualifying families," said Michelle R.B. Saddler, director of the department. "The SNAP program can help ensure that families have enough to eat while they rebuild their lives."

Active SNAP recipients who lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to the Nov. 17 disaster or experienced subsequent power outages lasting more than four hours have until 5 p.m. Nov. 27 to request replacement.

Individuals requesting replacement SNAP benefits must visit their local IDHS Family and Community Resource Center. Office locations can be found at or by calling the IDHS helpline at (800) 843-6154.

  Helping kids cope

Michael Kiser and Tim Ditman report the following:

A child psychologist at Carle said natural disasters like Sunday's tornadoes can be especially hard on children.

Dr. Andrea Klein said kids may have trouble coping and may be disoriented when their home, toys and familiar routine is all disrupted.

Klein said children may have trouble sleeping, may not feel like eating and could possible throw more fits and tantrums than usual after something as devastating as a tornado.

Klein added the first step for parents after a devastating event like a tornado is to reassure their kids that they are safe.

Klein also said parents should tell kids that toys and other household items can be replaced, and that the most important thing is that the family is still together.  She said as times goes by, parents need to be on the lookout for lingering stress from the event and increased worries by the child and possibly bring in a therapist.

Klein said it's a good idea to bring up the topic of tragedy to children to help them move forward from the event.

For more from Dr. Klein, click here.

FEMA team arrives

From Tim Mitchell: A team from the federal and state emergency management agencies and U.S. Small Business Administration has arrived in Gifford. 

The team will be doing preliminary assessments of damage to form the basis for a state request for federal disaster assistance.

The team expects to tour Douglas and Vermilion counties by Saturday.


From Tim Mitchell: Those who are ready to have their gas service restored should call NICOR at 1-888-642-6748.


Champaign County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Rick Atterberry said he was informed Thursday morning by a Carle Hospital spokeswoman that two men from Gifford were still hospitalized with storm-related injuries. One was listed in critical condition and the other in good. He did not have their identities.

Atterberry said EMA officials were not previously aware of anyone being seriously hurt  by the storm.

He said he had been told of an elderly woman who sustained a broken arm, which apparently led to the aggravation of pre-existing medical issues.

EMA's initial assessment was that six people went to the hospital with injuries, he said.


Carol Vorel and Tim Ditman report the following:

It looks like the earliest that school will be in session is Monday.

The big job of debris collection continues. And skilled volunteers are welcome Thursday and must check in with the United Way at the Country Health Nursing Home on Route 136.
Here are some other updates from Gifford:

— Mail for Gifford residents is being held at the Rantoul post office.

— A dump site has been set up at Hicksgas at U.S. 136 and Main Street for spoiled, damaged and contaminated food.

— Gifford residents who need toiletries, clothing and other personal items may visit Gordyville.  

— Donations of toiletries and paper items will be accepted at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Urbana until 3:30 Thursday afternoon.

— No donations of merchandise of any kind can be accepted in Gifford or Gordyville at this time. Monetary donations though are greatly appreciated through the United Way or other charities of the donor's choice.

— The craft festival will be held this weekend as scheduled at Gordyville.  But attendees should not come into Gifford.


Atterberry said U.S. 136 is now open through Gifford, Mary Schenk reports.

"That is a big deal," said Atterberry. "That frees up deputies and Illinois state troopers to go back to normal duties or other duties in town as the town is now wide open."


Atterberry reports Thursday morning that "virtually all the electricity that can be restored is restored," explaining that it has to be safe to hook homes back up.

"Some of the homes that are damaged will need an electrical contractor to inspect to make sure it is safe to turn it back on. That last thing we need is a fire in town."

In cases where a power meter has been pulled away from a house, the repair is the responsibility of the homeowner, Atterberry explained.

"Gas is a longer process," he said.


About 20 students from Schlarman High School in Danville planned to help with inventory and other work at Rademacher's Lumberyard, reports correspondent Carol Thilmony. (Read more about Rademacher's and other Gifford businesses here.) The owners' children attend the school. 


All today, you can drop off bottled water for Gifford residents at St. Matthew School, 1307 Lincolnshire Drive, C. The school has a trailer for donations out front, Meg Dickinson reports.

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