Illinois tornado victims make plea for donations to rebuild communities

FOX 32 NEWS - It’s been six weeks since an EF-3 tornado ripped through the city of Ottawa and the village of Naplate. Two people were killed, several sustained minor injuries and hundreds of homes were damaged.

Cleanup since has been slow, and that’s because of a lack of funds.

While the streets are cleared and small projects have been completed - it is still a disaster zone throughout much of Naplate. The community is getting no federal assistance and no state assistance - they are on their own - because the damage costs didn't meet the threshold to qualify for funds – and that's why they are reaching out for help.

The EF-3 tornado took just seconds to pass through, but left behind months if not years of cleanup.

“We need help with what is coming this next 6 months to 8 months to a year - they are not even talking about fixing our house for months and look at my door! It's a tarp!” said resident Danielle Lock.

The Locks are lucky - their house is still standing compared to many others in Naplate, but their roof, windows and siding need to be replaced - about $35k of work – and insurance will only pay half.

Now, a group is raising money for tornado survivors - who may have no insurance or been under-insured.

“Everybody from here has always been told the same old mantra: you live in Ottawa and Naplate and you are in a valley and that tornado is never going to get down in there, it’s never going to destroy your home, you should be fine, your insurance is fine, you don't need the gap insurance xyz,” said Alexia Ferracuti of the Ottawa/Naplate Longterm Recovery Group.

So far, the Ottawa/Napalte Longterm Recovery Group has raised $220k - not nearly enough to help repair and in some cases rebuild 600 homes.

The mayor of Ottawa is asking for donations through the Starved Rock Country Community Fund. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be divided based on need to his patient residents. 

"Through all of this they've been very, very positive, no one complained, you would think there would be a lot of angry people, but they all were very understanding,” said Ottawa Mayor Bob Eschbach.

Six weeks have come and gone and life is slowly getting back to normal - as well as it can be - in the middle of a disaster zone.

"It doesn't really help to dwell on what happened, it's better to kind of pick yourself up and just kind of move on from it,” said Ottawa resident Devin Krueger.

Residents have until this Friday to register for aid through the long term recovery group.

You can donate to the tornado victims by going the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation at srccf.org

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