A window inside life at Augustana College

Destruction in Washington, IL

Hello! After seeing the other new bloggers use their first post as an introduction, I hate having to write about such a serious topic for mine, but this is about something very close to me…literally.

If you haven’t heard, bad storms and tornadoes recently ravaged the Midwest. A total of six people were killed in Illinois alone, and the Chicago Bears had to evacuate the stadium (Yes, I know the Midwest consists of more than just Illinois, but as it is where my home and Augustana College are located, I mainly focus on the news surrounding Illinois). One of the places that took the most damage was Washington, IL. Washington is a city of 15,410 people (at least, according to the 2012 census) 145 miles from Chicago and only 20 minutes from my hometown of Peoria, just across the Illinois River. The damage is just horrific. There are neighborhoods demolished; the houses and all the items inside are completely gone, leaving the inhabitants homeless and with nothing. As far as I know, people are still digging through the wreckage, looking for anything they can salvage. Thankfully, most of the people were okay, but one man did die.

wreckage in Washington, IL

trees broken by tornado

searching through debris for possessions

Why am I bringing this grave issue up? What does this have to do with Augustana College? Be patient, and you’ll see in a moment.

One thing I have noticed is when tragedies happen, help is not far away. Mr. Rogers (yes, that Mr. Rogers!) is quoted saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” I believe this to be true. This is evident in Washington. Multiple donations have been made, and a plethora of volunteers help clean-up. Items that were carried away from Washington by the storm are being returned to their owners. The Red Cross treats injuries, and the Salvation Army is giving emergency food and shelter to those who need it. Missing pets are found alive in the wreckage and are being reunited with their families. The Chicago Bears will represent the Washington Panthers (Washington’s high school football team) on Sunday. Springfield’s Sacred Heart Griffins, the team Washington will play in the state semifinals, has scheduled six buses to bring Washington fans to the game and have arranged for pre-game and post-game meals for the team.

The tornado did not travel over to Peoria so my area was not affected. Yet, all day on Sunday, I received texts and calls from family and friends–some from Rock Island and some from the other side of Peoria–asking if I was okay and to let me know they were okay. As I drove back to Augie, I saw not one, not two, but FOUR ambulances coming from the direction of the Quad Cities. It made me realize how loved I was and that it is a shame that people only come together when these bad things happen.

Recently, I received an email from one of the other students here at Augie:Christmas Gift donation flyerEvery little bit helps. You don’t have to spend much; even a $1 gift is good. If you would like to help deliver these gifts, I would email Shelbi Ummel.

Thank you and be safe traveling home for the holidays!

~Kaylee

3 Responses to “Destruction in Washington, IL”

  1. SO sad..and also surprisingly uplifting at how many people have come together to lend a hand. Great post.

  2. Thanks for the reminder, Kaylee. It seems to me it’s extra hard to have this happen just as we get an early winter — not much chance to rebuild until spring.

  3. Kaylee, thank you for this post. My heart breaks for those in Washington, Ill. I just love hearing that you saw QCA ambulances headed toward your hometown area after the storm. The QCA is a great place for many reasons, and now we can add another reason to the list!

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