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Community slowly regains footing

GIFFORD -- The last three weeks have shown what's best about Central Illinois.
GIFFORD -- The last three weeks have shown what's best about Central Illinois. People came together to lend helping hands to those who lost everything in November's tornadoes. A group of volunteers is ready to scale back and it may be a sign the community is turning a corner. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger checks in.

"I think it's been working towards normal for the past week."

You can see evidence of it on the front porches of some homes. Things are starting to feel normal again; as normal as it can feel when there's still a gaping hole in your town.

"People are moving on with their lives, going back to work. And so, we just kind of, we wanted to be here as long as we felt we were needed."

Cindy Lustfeldt has been volunteering at St. Paul's Lutheran Church since the storm; helping out with hot meals in the kitchen.

"The first week, we were doing 500 - 700 meals a day. Last week, we were doing about 200 meals a day. This week, it's only been about 65."

Starting next week, the church is scaling back its volunteer effort. It will stop serving hot meals on Saturdays. It won't coordinate volunteers each day either.

"We've got the water back, we've got the electricity and the gas, and they can fend for themselves more. I think they're going to miss us, but we need to get back to normal here."

That doesn't mean the community will stop giving. The food pantry will stay open. The hotline will keep ringing for now and people can still pick up donated items in the parking lot, also known as St. Paul-mart. People like Brandon Boastick.

"All we can say is 'thanks, it's very much appreciated.' We'll never be able to repay it back."

The food pantry will be open from 2 - 8 each day, staring next week. They say, just because they're not coordinating volunteers shouldn't stop anyone from helping people who need it.

Illinois may not be so ready for another disaster according to a recent report. A review by the National Security Preparedness Index says more can be done to be ready.

They say local communities should register volunteer health professionals before a disaster strikes. Also, more should be done to identify people who would need extra help, such as those with disabilities, and develop a plan to care for them.
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