Gifford special section

Gifford special section

Overwhelming feeling of those who weathered disaster is 'appreciation'

GIFFORD — Two more pieces of legislation have been introduced in Springfield to help Gifford recover from the tornado that raked the northeastern Champaign County village a year ago, causing extensive property and economic damage.

The bills were drafted and filed earlier this month by state Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, whose district includes Gifford.

Gifford Stronger Than Ever: A special section

Putting together special sections like the one you're reading usually is tedious work.

But a strange thing happened on the way to producing this one.

Reporters wanted to write stories about Gifford. Photographers asked for assignments in Gifford. Heck, design editor Mike Goebel complained that 24 pages weren't enough for Gifford.

Premier in it for long haul

GIFFORD — From his home in Pesotum, Dave Kieffer said, "the horizon didn't look right" on Nov. 17.

Gifford Tornado: a look back

On November 17, 2013, an EF 3 tornado, with top wind speeds of 140 mph, hit the rural Champaign County community of Gifford. The 1/2 mile wide tornado touched down at 12:45 p.m., two miles east of Thomasboro, destroying 30 houses and severely damaging another 40. The tornado caused an estimated $60 million damage in Champaign County and $2.5 million in Vermilion County.

Quick on their feet: Nursing home, unscathed, became refuge

GIFFORD — There is a reason people make emergency plans.

Disasters do happen.

In Their Words: Gifford residents tell their stories

A year after an EF 3 tornado devastated Gifford, residents of the town tell riveting stories of survival in their own words.

Rebounding in style

GIFFORD — It was — in the cruelest sense of the term — the perfect storm.

The devastating tornado that struck this northeastern Champaign County community one year ago did its damage shortly after the start of a magical run by the community's seventh-grade boys' basketball team.

In the days that followed, squad members were out and about in town helping as they could.

Lions share in the work, despite their own losses

With at least 10 of their members affected directly by the Nov. 17 tornado, including many whose homes were destroyed, the Gifford Lions Club didn't hesitate to keep its mission alive.

Stars came out and shined

One of the biggest acts to benefit tornado victims in Illinois was Rock to the Rescue, a nonprofit founded in 2001 by REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin and Styx member Tommy Shaw to help people on the grass-roots level.

Music therapy

Musician David Howie wrote "Gifford and Washington" shortly after tornadoes hit the two towns. It was recorded at the now-closed Pogo Studio in Champaign and made available online, with all proceeds going to relief efforts. We asked Howie to recall how the song came to be: