Almost $160,000 raised in tornado relief effort

DIAMOND – It has been less than a month since a tornado hit the Diamond and Coal City area and already almost $160,000 has been raised to help those affected.

On Nov. 17 a EF2 tornado tore through the area with winds faster than 120 mph, damaging hundreds of homes and businesses and injuring four people.

Just days after the tornado struck, Operation St. Nick, the Community Foundation of Grundy County, We Care of Grundy County and the United Way of Grundy County stepped up to designate money to help those whose homes and property were destroyed.

With these organizations, in addition to Kendall-Grundy Community Action, private donations and money contributed to a tornado relief account at Mazon State bank, $159,500 has been given to 160 families through mini-grants, said Joe Schmitz, founder and president of St. Nick.

Those affected were able to originally apply for funds through Thanksgiving and then the deadline was extended to Dec. 6 at the request of the village of Diamond, Schmitz said.

“It was an amazing experience giving out the mini-grants and letting them know they didn’t have to pay any of that back,” he said.

The amount of grants varied based on the extent of damage the families’ homes and properties received, Schmitz said. They were given $500, $1,000 or $2,000 grants.

Every family they helped was incredibly grateful, he said. The money was given to them to use how best fit for them, whether it was toward insurance deductibles or to use to get through the holidays.

Ross Cloe of Sterling Estates subdivision received a grant in November. He said then he was at a loss for words.

“I’ve always been a pessimist in the past ... and [now], I’m thinking, my gosh people actually care,” he said.

Cloe and his family cannot live in their house because the roof was taken by the storm. What remains of his home has to be torn down, he said in November.

Schmitz said he was not sure if the need for assistance was completely met yet and the organizations would continue to monitor the situations out in the affected area.

“They’re going to be taken care of,” Schmitz said.

“It was a nice joint effort and we’re probably not done yet. But we finished with a 160 families,” he said.