Illinois – AFSCME Members Rebuild after Deadly Tornadoes
Tornado devastation in Harrisburg, Ill. (Photo by Randy Milligan)
When tornadoes devastated towns and cities across the Midwest and South in February, they killed at least 39 people and damaged property in 10 states. AFSCME members were not only among those helping to recover from the disaster, but also among those who lost loved ones, homes and possessions.
A tornado swept through Harrisburg, Ill., killing six and flattening entire neighborhoods. Among those killed was the aunt of an AFSCME Council 31 member who works at the Illinois Youth Center. At least seven AFSCME families lost their homes.
“Our members are kind of devastated,” said Randy Milligan, president of Local 779. “One lost his [work] uniform and boots. I set up an account for him at a boot store. We hooked him up with a utility belt, too.”
To help with the financial burden, Milligan worked the phones, reaching out to members, getting their disaster request forms filled out and sent to Council 31. Other locals have also stepped up to help. Local 1805, for example, delivered more than 200 pounds of hamburger to be served at a senior center providing free meals to victims. Union leaders from the Pinckneyville, Tamms and Vienna corrections centers also assisted with rescue and clean-up.
“What’s most impressive, though not surprising, is how quickly our members responded and how substantially they did so,” said Ed Caumiant, Council 31 regional director for southern Illinois.
Responding to the disasters, the national union committed $100,000 from its Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides immediate assistance and recovery funds to members hit hardest by such disasters. You can aid in the recovery efforts by giving to the Fallen Heroes Fund. Go online to AFSCME.org/fund or donate by check, payable to the AFSCME Fallen Heroes Fund and mail it c/o the fund at AFSCME, 1625 L St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036-5687.