Nashville, Illinois | Assistance from Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR) has shifted from Washington County in the southern part of the state to the central region as of Wednesday afternoon, July 5, as both areas clean up after wind damage and cope with continued power outages. Disaster Relief crews from out of state were headed to Illinois as of Thursday morning to join the Illinois team in Chatham. IBDR State Director Arnold Ramage said there were over 180 requests for assistance, and he expected more than 200 as news spread of “yellow shirts” on duty in the area.
IBDR teams conducting assessments of the requests for assistance began meeting with homeowners in Chatham on Wednesday, where an EF-2 tornado felled trees and complicated the damage from a straight-line derecho storm that raked the region with 100 mile-per-hour winds on Thursday, June 29.
Misty Buscher, mayor of neighboring Springfield, said the storm was the worst to hit the city in 50 years. Thousands of residents were without electricity over the long holiday weekend, as City Water Light and Power (CWLP) relied on out-of-state crews to assist in restoring the damaged power grid. As of Wednesday, more than 5,000 customers were still without electricity.
IBDR Team Leader Emil Nattier said the scene was similar in downstate Nashville, where Disaster Relief workers fed power crews for three days.
“We fed linemen and city workers and residents who didn’t have electricity,” Nattier said Wednesday as he was headed to Chatham to help organize chainsaw teams. Without electricity, restaurants in Nashville were closed and the local Kroger grocery store lost much of its refrigerated food supply.
Illinois Baptists served a steady supply of hamburgers and hotdogs with trained IBDR volunteers from the immediate area numbering up to 13 each day. They operated out of three IBDR trailers.
“The local community was grateful that we were there,” Nattier said of the quick response volunteers led when the need became apparent over the weekend. The storm system struck Nashville on Friday evening, a second wave one day after the derecho line swept central Illinois.
Nattier said at one point there were 500 power company crews working in Washington County.
IBDR has more than 400 trained volunteers who serve on chainsaw and flood recovery teams, with shower, laundry, and food service, and at every callout, as chaplains. IBDR is a partner with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, part of the SBC’s Send Relief compassion ministry. It is the third largest disaster relief organization, after the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
IBDR is a volunteer organization ministering with the Illinois Baptist State Association.