NEW: : Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin damage assessments in Gifford and several other locations devastated by Sunday’s tornadoes on Tuesday.
Water service has been restored to parts of Gifford, but residents are warned against using it for cooking or drinking.
Bernie Anderson, manager of community relations for Nicor Gas, said more than 100 homes in Gifford still were without natural gas service as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Here is where we will post updated information from Gifford's recovery from Sunday's tornado:
FEMA assessments set for Thursday
From Tim Mitchell: Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin damage assessments in Gifford and several other locations devastated by Sunday’s tornadoes on Thursday.
Assessments are also planned later in Douglas County and other declared state disaster areas.
The assessments will provide the documentation needed to support a request for assistance from the federal government.
“The state of Illinois is doing everything necessary to ensure that every community impacted by these deadly tornadoes can rebuild and recover,” Quinn said in a written statement. “These teams will gather information to help us quickly submit a federal disaster assistance request.”
Water service restored in Gifford
From Tim Mitchell: Water service has been restored to parts of Gifford, but residents are warned against using it for cooking or drinking.
Rick Atterberry, public information officer for the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency, said water service was restored shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The community’s water treatment plant, filter system and control unit were also damaged during Sunday’s tornado, but the water system itself was largely left intact, he said.
Atterberry said public works crews from other communities joined Gifford public works employees on Tuesday to bypass the water system and pump untreated water directly into the mains.
So many Gifford residents are able to receive untreated water.
“You will be able to wash and flush the toilet and do laundry, but it won’t be drinkable for quite some time,” Atterberry said.
Natural Gas service update
From Tim Mitchell: Bernie Anderson, manager of community relations for Nicor Gas, said more than 100 homes in Gifford still were without natural gas service as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Anderson said decisions on restoring natural gas service to the remaining homes will be made on a case-by-case basis after the owner has had a plumbing or heating contractor verify the piping is safe.
Scouts help in St. Joseph
From Nora Maberry-Daniels: On Nov. 30 Troop and Pack 40 from St. Joseph will host a pancake breakfast from 6 to 10 a.m. at St. Joseph-Ogden High School, 301 N. Main St., St. Joseph, the benefit tornado relief efforts in Gifford.
Lots of volunteers
Michael Kiser reports on the first big volunteer day in Gifford:More ways to help
From Nora Maberry-Daniels of The Leader: Ogden-Royal Fire Protection District will hold a donation drive from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in Ogden every evening this week, `at the fire station, 105 S. West St. in Ogden.
Prairieview-Ogden schools also are accepting donations. The Casey's in St. Joseph is accepting donations of clothing, canned goods, water, over-the-counter medication and money donations for the Red Cross.
Douglas County update
Kimberly Schofield reports the following:
Douglas County is now among the counties declared as disaster areas by Governor Pat Quinn.
The move was announced early Tuesday and brings the total number of counties given the designation to 13. Champaign County was included in the first group of counties on Sunday.
Douglas County's Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Victor said numerous homes were damaged across the county and some are uninhabitable. Also, power lines were downed along with power poles.
Victor added that the community and agencies are working to repair the damage, and all they really need are prayers and daylight to speed up the recovery.
Victor said some areas that were hit hard by high winds include Garrett and rural Pesotum, where a number of homes sustained damage. He said seven or eight houses are completely uninhabitable. Victor also said that power remains out in scattered areas across the county.
Douglas and Champaign are the only counties in east central Illinois included in the governor's disaster declarations.Twister stats
Tim Ditman reports the following:
The state climatologist said that the tornadoes that hit Gifford and Washington on Sunday are in rare company for the month of November.
Jim Angel said that the EF-3 tornado that hit Gifford is only the third of that magnitude to hit Illinois in November since modern records started being kept in 1950. The other two EF-3 twisters on record for Illinois in November are one that hit Madison and St. Clair Counties in 1988 and another that hit Marion in 1991.z
Angel said the EF-4 tornado that hit Washington is the strongest November tornado on record in Illinois.Champaign County offering a different form of relief
Carol Vorel reports the following:
Champaign County officials are providing relief to Gifford residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the tornado.
County board chairman Al Kurtz said relief is by way of waiving building permits and property taxes.
Kurtz said he has also turned to the county's Regional Planning Commission for low interest loans and more help bringing funds to Gifford.Tornado hits home, literally, for state senator
Tim Ditman reports the following:
The devastation in Gifford is hitting home for one State Senator.
Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs grew up in Gifford. He said he didn't realize how many friends of his were affected until he toured the damage.
Frerichs made the comments Tuesday on the WDWS Morning Show. You can hear that full interview here
Frerichs earlier reported on his Facebook page that his family members who live in Gifford were spared major damage to their homes.Gifford Grade School still closed
Tim Ditman reports the following:(Editor's note: the information in this report was gathered before Tuesday night's community meeting.)
Even though Gifford Grade School was spared major damage, the school remains closed as officials try to get things back in working order.
Superintendent Rod Grimsley said the gym roof has some damage, and some air conditioning units were lost. He said the bulk of the damage came to a pair of bus garages, and that put two buses out of commission.
Grimsley said there's no word when classes will be back in session.
Grimsley said he's telling families whose children attend Gifford Grade School to concentrate on recovery efforts for now. He added, though, that he'd like to get students back to a normal routine soon to take their minds off the devastation.Rules governing debris removal
From the Champaign County sheriff's office and county emergency management agency:
As the cleanup process in Gifford continues, the following debris removal requirements are in place:
There is to be no open burning. This is very important.
Debris is to be placed curbside, but not blocking roadways. It must be separated into the following categories before it will be removed:
- Vegetation such as trees and branches.
- Building materials such as drywall, siding, roofing, carpeting, etc.
- Bathroom fixtures such as toilets and sinks.
- White goods such as refrigerators, washers and dryers.
- Hazardous materials such as paint, chemicals, cleaning solvents, motor oil.
The debris must be separated into those categories or it will not be picked up.
Here are some updates on ways to help
. (Other ways to help were listed in Monday's live report, which is available here
From Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce
— As of this morning, only Emergency Personnel are allowed in Gifford. They are hoping to let volunteers in soon. If you would like to volunteer, contact United Way at 217-352-5151 to sign up. They are also accepting monetary donations and bottled water.
— Monetary donations can be sent to the Gifford State Bank. They can be sent to Gifford State Bank Tornado Relief Fund, POB 400, Gifford, IL 61847.
— Donations of bottled water, food, and plastic totes are being accepted at Rantoul’s First United Methodist Church. Check with other local churches because a lot of them are also accepting donations.
— The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce has started an Emergency Relief Grant Fund to accept monetary donations to help businesses rebuild in the upcoming months.
One of the biggest needs today is for large plastic totes. Residents are try to pack up their things before the rain comes. If you have any totes, they can be brought to the Rantoul First United Methodist Church where they will be taken to Gifford.
From St. Joseph United Methodist Church
As many of you already know, several towns in Illinois were hit on Sunday with tornadoes. There are several ways you can help.
— The St. Joseph-Stanton Firefighter’s Association, the St. Joe Grade/Middle School, & the SJO High School have all partnered together to put together a donation drive to collect items to be delivered to aid in the relief efforts in the Gifford area. The drive is TODAY (Tuesday 11/19) from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in our west parking lot. The most commonly needed items are: clothing for kids and adults, coats, blankets, non-perishable food items, bottled water, baby items (bottles, formula, diapers) toiletries, personal hygiene products, dog food, cat food, first aid supplies, OTC medicines, garbage bags, plastic storage totes, boxes, packing tape, work gloves, cleaning supplies, etc. The St. Joseph schools will also be accepting physical donations if you can’t make it to the drive tonight. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please visit the Gifford State Bank in St. Joseph. If you would like to help with the collection drive, the St. Joseph-Stanton Firefighter’s Association welcomes your help. If you are volunteering, they ask you to park neatly in the grass lot, to the east of the station, which can be accessed off of North 3rd Street. For those who will be dropping off items for the drive, they would like you to enter the church parking lot from the North off of Warren/150. They will quickly get you unloaded & have you exit to the South of the church using the alley between the church & the library.
Water service may be back tonight.
From Tom Kacich: Gifford village trustee Dustin Ehler says the town "may" have water service tonight. Ehler is thanking crews from Paxton, Gibson City, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and more.
Ameren: Power should be back Wednesday
From Ameren: Ameren Illinois says power should be restored to Gifford by the end of the day Wednesday.
A 9 a.m. update from the utility says some 7,500 customers were still without power, “mostly concentrated in the hard-hit areas of Washington, Pekin, Bloomington, Danville and Gifford.”
“Estimated safe restoration times for all customers in Pekin, Groveland, Roanoke, East Peoria, Bloomington, Danville, Tuscola and Pana is the end of the day today (Tuesday). Restoration work is also in progress for customers in Washington and Gifford and both areas are expected to have service by the end of the day on Wednesday.”
Attorney general warns of scammers
From Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office:
Following devastating tornadoes and severe storms that raced across Illinois on Sunday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged residents to be on alert for home repair con artists looking to exploit homeowners and local businesses needing repairs due to storm-related destruction and damage.
Madigan warned of home repair scammers who follow media accounts and quickly move into affected areas to take advantage of people. Madigan noted that these “storm chasers” use the opportunity to pressure people into making impulsive, often expensive, decisions about cleanup and construction work. Madigan encouraged local residents and business owners to call local law enforcement agencies and her office’s Consumer Fraud Hotline (1-800-386-5438) to report any suspicious activity.
Investigators with her office, who already have been assisting local authorities in Washington, Ill., since Sunday, will look into complaints received about contractors.
“In the wake of this weekend’s devastating storms, communities face a long recovery process,” Madigan said. “During this challenging time, I encourage area residents to be cautious and on alert for scammers trying to take advantage of people in need of assistance.”
Seven Illinois counties have been declared disaster areas including Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties.
Madigan recommended verifying that contractors in these areas have all necessary licenses, insurance and permits, and she encouraged taking extra caution before making any decisions to repair or rebuild damaged or destroyed property by avoiding rushing into signing a contract or making an upfront payment.
Madigan offered these additional tips to residents and businesses from being duped by dishonest contractors:
— Be wary of contractors who go door to door to offer repair services. Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust and, whenever possible, use established local contractors.
— Even if there is a need to act quickly, shop around for the best deal. Get written estimates from multiple contractors, and don’t be rushed into a deal.
— Get all of the terms of a contract in writing, and obtain a copy of the signed contract.
— Never make full payment until all the work has been completed to your satisfaction.
— Never pay in cash.
— Be aware that you have the right to cancel a contract within three business days if you signed it based on the contractor’s visit to your home.
— In the case of disaster repair, you have an additional right to cancel. If your insurance carrier denies coverage, you have the right to cancel the contract within five days of when your insurance carrier denies your coverage.
— Ask to see required state and local permits and licenses. Insurance adjusters and roofers must be licensed by state agencies. If the contractor does not have a required license, or if the name on the license doesn’t match the name on the contractor’s business card or equipment, that should raise a red flag.
The Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act requires contractors to furnish customers with written contracts for any repair or remodeling work costing more than $1,000. A contract must be signed by both the customer and the contractor. The law also requires contractors to carry at least minimum amounts of insurance for property damage, bodily injury and improper home repair. Contractors also must provide consumers with an informational pamphlet entitled “Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights.”