Top of the Morning, Aug. 7, 2014
You would be hard-pressed to find a busier place than Jim and Carol Scott's basement in Gifford.
That's where their son Derin Scott, his wife and their and five kids — ages 2, 6 (twins), 14 and 17 — have been living since November's tornado. It resembles the scene in "Willy Wonka," where four grandparents snuggled in a single bed.
"Very cramped," Derin said. "We're all next to each other. It's good that we were a close family to begin with."
On Friday, the chaos ends. A 6 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony signals a fresh start for Derin and Co. as they move into their new home at 103 S. West St. Built mostly by volunteers, the house is almost twice as big as the one knocked down by the tornado.
"The best part," Derin said, "is having more than one bathroom."
Derin, a 40-year-old Champaign County native and Rantoul High grad, never considered leaving Gifford after the disaster. Mom and Dad's hospitality made the decision easier. In return for the basement digs, Derin said, his family chipped in with food and cleaning "and anything we could do for them."
His parents weren't the only ones to answer in time of need. From the Northern Champaign and Vermilion Counties Long-Term Recovery Committee to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sadorus to Derin's fellow workers at Colmac Coil in Paxton, donations came pouring in. Derin said he'll begin the payback process with a housewarming party as early as Labor Day weekend.
He's booked this weekend. On Saturday, he begins the ordeal of moving his family's belongings from storage in a farmhouse near Rankin.
"There's a lot of work to be done," he said, "but it's all been worth it, including the wait."