Storm Update: Surveying Damage, Filing Claims, And Collecting Mementos

Nov 22, 2013

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency surveyed the damage in Gifford following this week’s devastating tornado.

A clean up truck hauls away broken tree branches in Gifford, Ill. on Nov. 18, 2013.
Credit Sean Powers / Illinois Public Radio

So far, 15 counties in the state, including Champaign, Douglas, and Vermilion, have been declared disaster areas by Governor Pat Quinn.

Quinn wants the federal government to provide Illinois with some assistance, but FEMA’s Nate Custer says there are a lot of factors that’ll be considered before that can happen.

“We’re looking at the extent of the damage, the effect on people, how many homes were destroyed, how many have had major damage, whether there’s been a history of previous disasters in recent years. Here there’s a number of factors that go into this. A major one is the level of insurance coverage,” Custer said.

Insurance Claims Climbing

A State Farm Insurance representative says the insurer has so far received about 3,700 storm-related claims from homeowners and 1,500 to 1,700 auto claims across the state. 

State Farm says a large percentage of property claims from Sunday’s storms are for total losses.

Collecting Lost Mementos

Morton Public Library received its first delivery of items that were carried away by Sunday’s storms. Reports of personal effects found across northern Illinois immediately followed the tornadoes that hit the area. Volunteers from six Chicago-area suburbs have been collecting the items to bring back to central Illinois.

Morton’s library is serving as the placeholder for the items. Director Janice Sherman says the library has received up to 200 photographs, various paperwork, pages from scrapbooks, and even some handwritten recipes. She says the library is happy to do its part in helping people impacted by the storms.

“When you see things like this…the top left corner of what’s obviously a wedding photo, and you can see the bride’s and the groom’s faces very clearly, something like that could be very precious to a family member,” Sherman said.

Sherman says photos without identifying information will be posted on a Facebook page that’s working to collect such items with tornado victims. She says items with owner information will be organized in alphabetical order for easy retrieval. Those impacted by the storm are invited to come to the library to browse the collected pictures.

Illinois Public Radio's Sean Powers and Denise Molina-Weiger contributed to this report.