The Multi-Agency Resource Center at Five Points Washington was bustling Monday as tornado victims found answers to their questions, assistance, food, water, smiling faces and, in many cases, a warm hug and a shoulder on which to cry.
Think of it as one-stop shopping for tornado disaster relief. The Multi-Agency Resource Center at Five Points Washington was bustling Monday as tornado victims found answers to their questions, assistance, food, water, smiling faces and, in many cases, a warm hug and a shoulder on which to cry. More than 20 area and state agencies have been together in the same location since Saturday, but Monday was especially busy — most likely because victims weren't allowed access to their homes because of debris cleanup. Victims — who need to show proof of address — are allowed to enter the resource center once a volunteer ambassador becomes available. Ambassadors assess victims' needs, then take them to the agencies that can help. Adele Pollock, youth services director at the Tremont District Library, has been an ambassador in the converted banquet rooms since Saturday. “I've helped folks get a car seat, a copy of a driver's license, housing ...” she said. “Volunteering is rewarding because people are so grateful for the help, but heartbreaking at the same time,” she added, because many victims are under so much stress. Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief is offering child care so parents can take care of business while their children are in a safe place. Volunteers who are staffing the day care are trained to help children cope with stress. “We mainly let them talk,” said volunteer Amy Hardin, a child-care worker at Five Points. Among the agencies in the resource center are the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Tazewell County Health Department, Illinois Secretary of State, Illinois Attorney General, Illinois Department of Transportation, Regional Office of Education, Central Illinois Agency on Aging, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Peoria Humane Society. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, spiritual guidance, cleanup assistance, tetanus shots, rental housing, rent and security deposit assistance, copies of driver's licenses and car titles, child care resources and free data recovery for tornado-damaged computers. Therapy animals from the Humane Society are there to calm frazzled nerves. The resource center was established by the Tri-County Long-Term Recovery Committee, which was formed earlier this year by not-for-profit relief organizations when floods devastated the area. It's scheduled to be open one more day, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, but Red Cross spokesman Harley Jones said it may open more days. “We're having that conversation,” he said. “But whether the resource center is open or not, the agencies will continue to help victims.”