When a tornado hits, it really does take the whole community to rebuild. After the July tornadoes that affected the entire town of Cameron, Ill., 1-800-BOARDUP and Werner Restoration were honored to be part of that community.
It started with sirens.
All of Knox and Warren Counties, west of the Quad Cities, were under tornado warnings throughout the afternoon of Thursday, July 16. Just before dusk, as many as six tornadoes ripped through the area. Much of the destruction was concentrated in Cameron, a residential town of 600 people where about half of the homes experienced serious damage. “There was extreme devastation,” explains Mike Whitson, Mike Whitson, local director of emergency services for 1-800-BOARDUP, a division of Werner Restoration. “Roofs were gone. Parts of buildings were gone.”
The response to Cameron was swift. Emergency responders were on the scene quickly. While the physical damage was great, the sirens did their job. No one was seriously hurt or injured in the town. Mike and 1-800-BOARDUP were dispatched to Cameron within an hour of the tornadoes to help with rehab. This meant he did what he could to support the initial efforts – including calling around for hotel rooms and passing out water and Gatorade to first responders. “I was able to do some of the things that they (first responders) didn’t have the time or resources to do,” Mike says. It took several days to survey the damage, repair downed electrical lines, and begin clearing debris. And this was taking place during the scorching heat of July.
It was about community.
“There were many volunteer agencies who came in to help,” Mike remembers. “It was surprising how quickly the debris was cleared with all the help.” That’s the most touching part of disasters like the Cameron tornado – people coming together. Even during the storm, the residents of Cameron came together to ensure they were safe. Mike talked to one resident who rushed across the street when the warnings began. Her neighbor didn’t have a basement, so the families took shelter together. These examples of community were much of the reason people stayed safe. “I think it’s a bit of the small town spirit,” Mike says. “Everyone stayed positive, basically saying, ‘Let’s put our heads together and get ‘er done.’”
Time to rebuild.
Once the town was safe and secure from threats like downed power lines, debris and gas leaks, organizations like 1-800-BOARDUP and Werner Restoration could begin helping families rebuild. 1-800-BOARDUP responded to 10 homes to assist homeowners in the aftermath of the storms.
The bottom line.
When communities come together after storms and tornadoes, really wonderful things can happen. The team at 1-800-BOARDUP and Werner is happy to be part of these efforts.
Learn more about 1-800-BOARDUP and the important victim assistance it provides to towns like Cameron.