WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD)- The community banded together, using faith as a focal point when the devastating tornado struck Washington ten years ago.
Even though it has been a decade, residents can still have mental and emotional wounds to this day.
An unseasonably warm November Sunday turned into a day a community will never forget. An EF-4 tornado tore through the city of Washington, leaving a trail of debris behind. A majority of the churches were in service at the time of the storm, most of which had little to no damage.
Dave Jane, Lead Pastor of Connect Church, recalls that day. “I remember we lost power and then the emergency lights came on. So there was certainty, a little bit of anxiety at the reality that this wasn’t just a warning, but this was a legitimate sighting of a tornado.”
Connect Church, being only two months old at the time, focused on trying to provide practical support. They donated water, tires, fifty box springs and mattresses, and three cars to families in need. Members of the church would even donate from their own homes if they were able to. “Someone would contact the church and say we need this, and then we would send the note out and people of the church would say I’ve got one of those, I can do that,” Dave said.
Crossroads Global Methodist Church’s former lead pastor Tom Goodell remembers getting the generators running, allowing the church to become a shelter for those who didn’t have anywhere to go.
“It turned out the parking lot lights were the most important thing because as it got dark in Washington, and there was no electricity, people could see hey there are lights on out at the north end of town, which is where the church was, and so people begin just driving towards the light.”
Goodell said that they had hundreds of Washington residents staying in the church for the week following the tornado. The Salvation Army was able to provide the church with support, feeding the individuals that were sheltering.
Though the Washington tornado happened a decade ago, survivors could still be battling emotional wounds. Caitlin Scott, Clinical Director of Family Core in Peoria, says that PTSD is a trauma response that can have lasting effects.
Signs of PTSD can easily trigger emotions in settings similar to where the trauma took place, for example, being scared or angry. PTSD can also affect individuals eating habits, such as eating more or less, in direct relation to the trauma that occurred. Another lasting effect can be nightmares of re-living the trauma.
Scott gives advice on how to seek help. “We find that people usually start with their inner circle that they’re trying to communicate with some hard feelings. Then they might expand to seeking out some counseling services, seeking out support groups. Just find somewhere where you can get support from people that can help you manage those feelings. Think about how you can change things to feel a little better in your environment.”
To seek help for PTSD, go to familycore.org.