Thursday afternoon update

Things are improving out at the homes.  Please check out the latest pictures here on the site.

Fitzsimmons:  we’re ready to move in once the phone lines are back up and we check the fire alarm system.  We project phone service to be restored late on Monday.

Knox:  It could be a week and a half.

  • We have the door on order, but that’s the thing that may come last.  It’s a very specific type of door that is required, so not something we can run out and buy.
  • We have to replace the broken windows on the front of the building.
  • We have to replace the sofit (?–that stuff under the roof on the outside) and have a little section where the frame will have to be built out.
  • Need the phones on and fire systems working.
  • There are plenty of other things to do, but they can be done after people are back in their own home.

We’ve started a Tornado Relief Fund to support our residents in their dislocation and to help get them back into their home.  The link is on this web page.

SU Accepting Donations

Streator Unlimited is accepting donations for tornado relief. You can donate through Network for Good and specify how you would like your donation allocated, stop by the front office at 305 N Sterling St, or mail donations to:

Streator Unlimited Inc
Tornado Relief
PO Box 706
Streator, IL 61364

We have many of our consumers living and sleeping at the main Day Training building or with parents until their home is repaired. Below are some pictures of their classrooms that are doubling as makeshift bedrooms. Your donation would certainly make a difference to them.

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Wednesday Afternoon

The Three Rivers Baptist Association had a crew of 12-13 guys out at Knox today, cutting up all the downed trees and getting them into a pile.  I’m told Channel 20 news out of Peoria stopped by to do a tv interview and will have them on a story tonight at 6:00.  This is a great bunch of guys, volunteers from several different places.  Mayor Lansford had sent them our way and gave us a call in the afternoon to check in on how we were doing, which was a really cool thing to do.  Also, thanks to Brian and Thomas who were out there with their chainsaw today as well.

We didn’t get the luck we were counting on to move back into Fitzsimmons.  Everything’s ready except the phone line, for which we have a service appointment of 6:00 pm on Monday, unless they can manage something sooner.  Why can’t we just get by with a cell ph0ne?  Our fire alarm system is connected to response agencies via the telephone lines.  When it’s not connected to the lines, it emits a high warning tone.  We don’t feel it is save to move back in without the fire alarm system being functional to keep the residents safe.

Indoor cleanup is progressing nicely at Knox.  We still need the new back door to arrive and then install it.  Once that’s done, we’ll see what remaining repairs can wait until after the residents have moved in and which ones will have to be done before.

What would be helpful, since it looks like residents will be staying here over the weekend, would be some company on Saturday or Sunday.  You and one of our staff could go with consumers on a walk to the park, or sit and do a jigsaw puzzle with someone, play the cello for us, or anything along those lines.  If you’ve got some nice outdoor space for a cookout it would be really great for everyone to get outside and away for a while.  Call me at the main office or send an e-mail through the website if you’re interested.

Wednesday update

The power is back on at Fitzsimmons.  If we can get the phone lines working (for our fire alarm system) and have some luck, we may actually move back in today.

Knox has power too.  Today we’ll put the air conditioning units back up and see if they work.  The new door and windows have been ordered and will hopefully be here soon.  We have work to do on debris.  Once all that is done, the IL Dept of Public Health will have to come and review and give us permission to move back in.  We can’t put together a timeframe for all this yet, but hopefully it won’t be too long.

The residents would much rather be back in their own beds, but are doing fine in their temporary arrangement here at the main building or staying home with family.

As powerful as that tornado was, the dedication and commitment of everyone connected to SU is an even greater thing.


Nothing much changed from previous updates as of this morning.  Our insurance adjuster is out this morning.  We still don’t have power out at Knox or Fitzsimmons yet.  Folk are still either with their family or staying at our main building.  Thank you Jenny’s mom and also Kathy Graham who have cooked supper.  Displaced residents are coping in an admirable manner.  I’m hopeful we’ll have some projected timeframes and plans for getting the homes open again this afternoon or tomorrow morning.  Day program continues to be up and running and things are fine at Ralph Plumb and the apartments.

We’ve had lots of offers of help, which we truly appreciate.  I’ll let people know as the opportunities arise.  Right now, a breakfast casserole for 20 would be handy here at the main building, where we’ve got an oven and refrigerator.  Also some kind of easy snack for evening for around 20 people that isn’t too messy.  Just bring them by the main office.  We’ll probably hit people up to help cleaning inside Knox when we get to that point, and may ask for a few more days help with meals as we get back in and restock the fridge and freezer from scratch.


We have Knox Estates before the tornado, with the lovely gazebo out front.

Here’s Knox and the gazebo after.

You can see our neighbor, the Engle Lane Theatre, in the background.  One of the coolest things in the Streator Community, this historic theatre suffered extensive damage–the blue you can see on the second floor is actually the open sky from the tornado’s destruction.  That said, it is very possible the theatre saved the homes from more deadly damage.   Here is the parking lot.  That’s Tiffany’s van.

Here’s the roof:

Mid-day Monday

Day program is running. Fitzsimmons looks like it has little damage and may be ready to occupy after inspection, power back on, and cleaning up. Knox will need a new door, some new windows, some work on the roof, and a lot of cleanup. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow how long it will be for it to be ready–hopefully not too long.

We’ve had lots of offers for help and they are truly appreciated, with a special thanks to Illinois Valley Industries, Friendship House, Horizon House, Access Services and DHS. Cheri French is organizing a laundry brigage as we have around 20 loads of laundry to get us caught up. We’ll put the word out for a cleaning crew when Knox is ready for that. Employees have also gone well above and beyond, offering help, going without sleep, helping residents get across downed limbs to make it over to an open road, hauling mattresses, organizing very complex scheduling and communication. If the saying is true that you don’t really know who your friends are until you’re in deep trouble, then we know with absolute certainty that Streator Unlimited is blessed with many great friends.

Monday Tornado Update

Day Program is open today. Internet is down, if you’re trying to contact us. Our residents are doing OK staying with either family, at Ralph Plumb, or at the main building. We’ve got an insurance adjuster coming hopefully today and Mike Cinnamon has cleared the road to get out to Knox and Fitzsimmons. He’s working on identifying needed repairs.

Tornado second update – edited

Knox and Fitzsimmons will be closed for up to two weeks. Residents are either going home with family or are among the 8-10 folk who will be staying at a Chalet at Grand Bear Lodge (thank you Grand Bear). Staff, consumers, and friends of SU have been awesome.

Revision: folk are staying at either Ralph Plumb or on beds we went and got out at Knox and took to our main building. Grand Bear was a bust.

Tornado Update

None of our residents were hurt. People are evacuating from Knox and Fitzsimmons to Kimes (Kines?) School because you can’t get further than that. From there they are going to Ralph Plumb, which now has power. Family are coming to pick up a great many of the residents. The main building has power but is not staffed.

Staff are also checking in with each other…what we’ve heard so far is that people are OK, though some damage to yards and one employee is not sure if her home is still there or not.

The physical building at Ralph Plumb is OK.