Rantoul official helps Washington recover from tornado

RANTOUL — A village of Rantoul official has played a prominent role in assisting the tornado-ravaged community of Washington, Ill., in its rebuilding efforts.

The Tazewell County community was raked by a tornado Nov. 17 — the same day a tornado caused heavy damage to Gifford.

Dan Culkin, Rantoul village inspector, said more than 2,200 properties were damaged or destroyed in Washington — including about 1,000 homes.

Washington officials are overwhelmed with plans for new buildings. (Culkin said they receive plans for two to three new homes every day.)

Culkin is vice president of the Central Illinois Protective Officials Conference. And just as fire and police departments have mutual aid agreements, so do other units of government, in this case a group of officials who are mandated to see that buildings are built to code.

"Rantoul worked out a mutual aid agreement with a lot of municipalities in Central Illinois for (this type) of thing," Culkin said.

The village official traveled to Washington for two days in December, did plan reviews, answered questions and made inspections.

He was asked to serve as the coordinator for all of the volunteer inspectors. Since then, Culkin has been in contact with officials in Washington via phone and email on a regular basis.

"We have come up with a couple of plans," Culkin said, "the first being they're wanting to do all this new construction. ... We want to make sure (it's) built properly and designed well and meets code."

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