Facebook is a tool that has been widely used after the Nov. 17 tornado that swept through parts of East Peoria, Washington and Pekin.
East Peorian Damien Cruse, along with some others, set up a Facebook page called East Peoria Tornado Recovery.
Facebook is a tool that has been widely used after the Nov. 17 tornado that swept through parts of East Peoria, Washington and Pekin. East Peorian Damien Cruse, along with some others, set up a Facebook page called East Peoria Tornado Recovery. “We’re just trying to keep people connected. I don’t want to get the glory for doing this,” Cruse said. The page was established on Nov. 19, and within 24 hours, the page had more than 2,000 likes. Now, it’s more than 5,000. The banner features a house that was hit by the tornado in East Peoria. “It’s been good. The guys who are doing the Washington one are talking to us and sharing things,” Cruse said. For example, on Nov. 26 when residents were not allowed access to their damaged homes, Cruse said they communicated via Facebook and got volunteers to come to East Peoria. Washington also has a tornado recovery Facebook page. “Last week (Nov. 18-22), there was so much going on in Washington, so we were like, ‘Hey, let’s get East Peoria some help and Pekin as well,’” Cruse said. “We want to make sure where people can get clothing and donations. To me this is the real meaning of networking.” In addition on where to get supplies, Cruse said on the Facebook page, people can find information about people who want to volunteer. “We’re kind of back and forth between the Washington and East Peoria page to make sure the information is getting around trying to connect volunteers with people who need help,” he said. “There’s just been a huge amount of people wanting to help.” Cruse, 37, said it has been great seeing the communities come together during a time of crisis. However, he said he doesn’t understand why volunteers need to register. “They want all these volunteers to register. If they don’t they can be arrested for being on that property. That’s kind of silly. I understand it with contractors,” he said. Cruse has been volunteering nearly every day, both in Washington and East Peoria, helping cut trees, clearing debris and transporting supplies, such as gloves, tarps and cleaning supplies to wherever they are needed. “I had a friend who lost her house completely. A friend of mine had to move out of his house, and his mother had to move out completely,” Cruse said. Cruse helped his friend’s mother all day Nov. 19 and 20. “She lives on Dallas Street. Her house is completely gone. She went into the basement and she was OK. I think a lot of people were saved because they were at church,” Cruse said. Cruse said he doesn’t want the victims of the tornado spending money when they don’t have to with all of the volunteers offering to help. “We don’t want people to pay for cutting down trees. I’ve chased some people off,” he said. “There’s too many of us in the area will do what we can for free.” Cruse said he has some time available now, so he is doing everything he can to help. “I’m taking everything I can to help out and give back. My family understands. There’s no sense in being home. If I have to be there on Thanksgiving because someone has a tree through their window, I will,” Cruse said. “I know a lot of guys like this. I’m not the only one who’s doing this.” Cruse applauded other groups helping out, such as Operation Blessing out of the Dream Center and Samaritan’s Purse. “It’s been great. It’s too bad that it took something like this for a city to come together. It’s made us strong and we’re not crumbling from it,” he said. On the East Peoria Tornado Recovery page, Cruse said he has received a few messages saying not to forget about East Peoria. “I said, ‘That’s why we’re doing this,’” he said. Cruse said he understands why there are some East Peorians who are upset because they feel like they are not getting enough help. “Washington’s a complete disaster and there are parts of East Peoria that are bad, too. I can understand,” he said. Yet, he said overall there is a positive attitude reverberating throughout the area. “This has been an overwhelming sense of community. Everyday side by side you have complete strangers. You have people bringing you food. I can see God’s hand working in all of this,” he said.