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Coal City needs volunteers

Hoping for mass numbers Friday, Saturday

Volunteers walk through Richards Crossing on June 26 while cleaning debris from a house that was destroyed when an EF3 tornado ripped through Coal City.
Volunteers walk through Richards Crossing on June 26 while cleaning debris from a house that was destroyed when an EF3 tornado ripped through Coal City.

COAL CITY – Coal City is again looking for volunteers to help continued recovery efforts from the EF3 tornado that damaged 884 properties June 22.

Coal City Village Administrator Matt Fritz said a phone call went out Thursday evening to at least 2,000 volunteers who have registered and lent their time and effort since the storm hit.

Volunteers are encouraged to arrive at Coal City High School as early as 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Fritz said.

Among the list of calls is to Coal City School District. Fritz said the village is hoping to have school clubs and teams volunteer.

The village received help from at least 1,700 volunteers the first week of recovery, but the average has dipped to about 18 volunteers per day since then, Fritz said.

Those volunteers are then led by Team Rubicon and AmeriCorps, which are both leaving town within a couple weeks.

Fritz said teams Friday and Saturday will have two primary tasks – clearing fields of debris and raking through parkways.

“We hope to get both of those tasks completed by the end of the week,” Fritz said.

The city has seen a great deal of help from Team Rubicon, which arrived June 23 in Coal City.

The nonprofit organization is comprised of mostly military veterans and first responders, and uses the skills of its members to rapidly deploy emergency response teams during natural disasters such as tornadoes.

William Porter, Team Rubicon Incident Commander, said Wednesday the team will keep in touch with homeowners as much as it can until July 18, when it is scheduled to leave town. He said AmeriCorps is heading out Friday.

Porter said Coal City needs and will continue to need volunteers, because there isn’t a budget for the dollar amount of work that needs to be done.

“The city needs volunteers for the next year or two years in order to get everything back to normal,” Porter said. “Just because cleanup is close to done, doesn’t mean the recovery is done.”

Coal City will need qualified electricians and other skilled people to help restore normalcy, Porter said. 

“The typical response effort last seven days, the relief effort lasts 30 days, but the recovery is much longer,” Porter said.

For the long term, organizations like the United Way and church groups do a lot of the work, he said. That work can include anything from fencing to planting grass seed, he said.

“The type of work takes volunteers because no one has the budget for it,” Porter said.

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