Tornado Recovery in Washington, Illinois

A Washington, IL home destroyed by the tornado of November 17, 2013.

Jennifer Williams and I are in Washington, IL this week.  Washington was hit by an EF-4 tornado last November 17.  The storm damaged over 1000 homes and we wanted to visit Washington to see where the town is in its recovery less than three months after the disaster.

We spent Monday surveying the damage and rebuilding efforts.  We saw what one might expect – a very mixed picture of where people are right now.  Some homes are well on the way to being rebuilt, others are in a surreal state – the front of the house ripped off – exposing still made beds, other furniture still on the second story – clothes hanging in the closets.  The only thing that makes these pictures bearable at this point in the story is the sound of hammering and sawing in the background – comforting sounds in this community determined to build back stronger than ever.

We attended a City Council meeting on Monday evening where we heard updates on the official road to recovery.  We were invited by Mayor Manier to stop by City Hall the next day to discuss Close to Home.  That meeting spurred interesting ideas that we are following up on during the rest of our visit here.  We are inspired by the possibility of putting our ideas into action here in Washington – while helping a community recover.

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