ST. ELMO —
Less than five months after tornadoes struck St. Elmo and Brownstown, cleanup and repairs are still ongoing.
“It was the debris removal that has been the hardest part,” said Fayette County EMA Coordinator Kendra Cray. “We were over in St. Elmo a little bit ago and there were some trees down. Debris removal is still kind of the toughest thing to deal with.”
Some of the repairs and assistance following November’s tornadoes were covered by the state, but FEMA assistance was denied. Cray said despite the denial of federal aid for Fayette County and other areas throughout the state, she has continued to work with Gov. Pat Quinn’s office to repeal the agency’s decision.
“We’re still trying to pursue it,” she said. “We’re still filing paperwork to appeal the decision and still trying to help speed up the process. We haven’t given up.”
As tornado season approaches, Cray said the EMA office has been working to make sure county residents understand the danger they are facing. She said that education starts with children who can help parents realize the danger tornadoes pose to homes and families.
“We have been stepping up and providing education for our young kids. We feel like if we can prepare them, they prepare the parents,” she said.
Cray said most of the education for parents comes from teaching kids about having a safe place to go in the event of a storm, whether it’s a basement or an interior room without windows.
“You can have your kit and your water, but you need to know where you’re going,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @EDNJAdams.