Southern Illinois Tornado One-Year Anniversaryby Senator Richard J. Durbin
Posted on 2013-02-28
DURBIN. Madam President, this week marks the 1-year anniversary
of the deadly tornado that devastated the towns of Harrisburg and
Ridgway in Saline and Gallatin Counties.
I visited both of those towns right after the tornado.
I have seen my fair share of tornado damage in my life. But when I visited Harrisburg and Ridgway, I saw some things I have never seen before. I expected to see some trees blown down and shingles torn off roofs. Instead, I saw entire houses lifted from their concrete foundation and tossed on top of the neighboring house.
The loss of homes and property was really difficult to bear, but the real tragedy lies in the lives that were claimed by this tornado. Eight people died as a result of this violent storm: Randy Rann, Donna Rann, Jaylynn Ferrell, Mary Osman, Linda Hull, Greg Swierk, Don Smith and R. Blaine Mauney.
But despite this incredible loss, when I visited Harrisburg and Ridgway, what I didn't see were broken spirits. Instead, from the very minute this disaster took place, people came together to rebuild the community. The outpouring of support was amazing almost 6,000 people pitched in before it was all over.
And I can't say enough about the tireless efforts the emergency personnel who were there from the minute that the sirens went off. They were there to help under the most extraordinary circumstances.
I went to Harrisburg 5 weeks after my first visit and I was amazed at how much better the community looked.
Today, both communities have made incredible progress moving forward, thanks again to everyone engaged in the rescue and cleanup at every level, and during this entire past year.
I also want to recognize the hard work and dedication of: Jonathan Monken, head of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency; Eric Gregg, Mayor of Harrisburg; Becky Mitchell, Mayor of Ridgway; State Senator Gary Forby; and State Representative Brandon Phelps. They were there when their constituents and their communities needed them the most.
Today, when I see how much the residents of Harrisburg and Ridgway have done to rebuild their communities over the past year, I am proud to be from Illinois and proud to be part of this great Nation.