University News

EM Professor: Donations Best Way to Help Tornado-Stricken Communities

November 21, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- Four days after the Nov. 17 tornado outbreak that devastated portions of Tazewell County in Illinois, hard-hit communities like Washington "are still digging out," according to Western Illinois University Emergency Management Assistant Professor Jack Rozdilsky.

"I was asked by the Tazewell county EMA to assist in providing a clear message to the WIU and Macomb community that volunteer help is not needed right now. Do not make plans to travel to Washington to provide volunteer assistance this weekend," said Rozdilsky, who also serves as the coordinator of the emergency management program, a degree program in Western's health sciences department.

On Wednesday (Nov. 20), Rozdilsky led a small advance team of students from the WIU Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) student chapter into the disaster site area of Tazewell County for the purposes of situational assessment and provision of technical assistance. The team provided planning-related assistance to the Tazewell County EMA. Rozdilsky said one of the purposes of their early assessment was to make a determination of what type of help is needed most right now. Both Rozdilsky and the WIU IESMA student chapter have been inundated by offers from the WIU community from people eager to provide volunteer assistance this weekend.

"Given the magnitude of the disaster in places like Washington, we need to allow time for the situation to be stabilized," he added. "In the coming months, there will be ample opportunities to provide many forms of appropriate assistance. Right now, a large outpouring of volunteer labor with people traveling to the disaster-affected towns like Washington would be counterproductive. I urge patience for those who want to volunteer. For those who want to help right now, the best method is to provide monetary donations."

Rozdilsky said one outlet to consider donating to is the Washington Tornado Relief Fund. The Tazewell County-based effort is receiving funds at the Morton Community Bank (721 West Jackson St., Morton, IL 61550). Checks should be made out to: "Washington Tornado Relief Fund."

"In terms of donation of items, clothes are not needed," Rozdilsky added. "Do not send clothes to Tazewell County."

Rozdilsky said useful items to donate include: toiletries, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products and hand sanitizer; plastic totes, lightweight plastic shelving and lightweight stackable shelving units; plastic utensils, cups and plates; reading glasses, contact solution and contact cases; denture products and Depends; first aid kits, sewing kits, pain relievers and cold medicine; and duct tape, extension cords, power strips, phone chargers and black markers.

For more information, contact Rozdilsky at (309) 298-1621 or via email at Learn more about WIU's emergency management bachelor's degree program—one of only 15 of its type in the U.S.— at

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