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Red Cross Helping Tornado Victims

Red Cross helps families find comfort in Coal City

The American Red Cross is helping people in the Midwest after the weekend’s devastating tornadoes, providing those affected with safe shelter, meals and comfort as they deal with the challenges ahead.

Officials report more than 1,000 homes sustained damage and tens of thousands more are still without power. More than 100 people stayed in 25 Red Cross shelters Monday night in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

“Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by Sunday’s severe storms,” said Trevor Riggen, vice president of Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Red Cross workers are on the ground now providing relief and we’ll be there for weeks to come helping people pick up the pieces and get back on their feet.”

Red Cross emergency vehicles are traveling throughout the affected communities, distributing meals, snacks and relief supplies. Community aid stations are also open in some areas where people can get food and snacks, mental health and health care services, and information about what help is available.

In Coal City, Illinois, Red Cross teams fanned out to distribute blankets, water and food through the debris-lined streets. On board one response vehicle, Red Cross mental health specialists Rich Arons and Diana Spathis helped people as they dealt with the destruction.

Inside Rachetti’s Café and Pizzeria downtown, Mark Evans was grilling burgers for customers when he saw the funnel cloud and hustled customers and employees though the kitchen to safety. After the tornadoes, he prepared food for a special Red Cross delivery. Red Cross workers would deliver Evans’ food to neighbors who no longer have working kitchens of their own.

Throughout affected communities, damage assessment teams are helping to determine the full scope of destruction left behind by the tornadoes while more workers, supplies and equipment are being mobilized in case they are needed. In the days ahead, Red Cross workers will work with families to make individual recovery plans, fill out paperwork, and connect them to other services to support recovery efforts. The Red Cross is also coordinating closely with government and community partners to provide help and support long term recovery efforts. 

FOLLOW SAFETY STEPS The Red Cross reminds affected residents to return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. They should also:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes.
  • Avoid fallen power lines or broken gas lines - immediately report them to the utility companies.
  • If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department
  • Use flashlights, not candles when examining buildings.
  • About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.