Story: Red Cross helps families find comfort in Coal City

Coal City Tornado Relief

As dawn broke the morning after a tornado outbreak ripped across Illinois, residents woke with the challenge all survivors of devastating storms face. Where to turn for help?

The American Red Cross, Governor Pat Quinn and state emergency management officials banded together to tell people relief is coming, because help is on the way. “We’re all in this together, we’re a team,” said Quinn.

As the team fanned out across affected regions, the arm of the Red Cross reached out to families in Coal City. People were up early to begin assessing damage to their homes. Red Cross emergency response vehicles carrying supplies like blankets, water and doughnuts winded through debris-lined streets. On board were volunteers Rich Arons and Diana Spathis. They saw a lot of community strength under the rubble. Still, when the unavoidable fatigue settled over the neighborhoods later in the day, the two disaster mental health specialists provided a pivotal break to help people push through it by taking time to talk over a cup of coffee.

Inside Rachetti’s Café and Pizzeria downtown, Mark Evans was prepping for a special Red Cross delivery. The day before, Mark was grilling burgers, one of his favorite dishes to cook. When he saw the funnel cloud, he forgot the food and hustled the handful of customers and employees though the kitchen to safety. Today, Mark took extra care and found new meaning in preparing dinner. The Red Cross was sending volunteers to distribute the food to families who no longer had working kitchens of their own.

Coal City Tornado Relief

For teenager Zach Hajduk that calzone never tasted so good. Zach is sleeping in the dining room until the roof over his bedroom is repaired. Now sleeping where he should be eating, and eating outside; Zach and his family were grateful the Red Cross found the path to his door and extend a hand to help.

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