GIFFORD, Ill. — Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) inmates volunteered to help with disaster relief efforts after 24 tornadoes damaged homes and buildings as well as killed at least six people in 15 Illinois counties in the central part of the state on Nov. 17.
Exactly 61 offenders from Pontiac Correctional Center, Decatur Correctional Center and the Dixon Springs facility volunteered to help with relief efforts in Gifford and Brookport, completing 525 man-hours as of Nov. 26. Ten inmate work crews gathered with complete security screening of each inmate to qualify for outside work.
In addition to the work the inmates completed in Gifford, the IDOC also delivered two box trucks of water and Illinois Correctional Industries (ICI) delivered a semi-trailer of disaster supplies to Brookport. The supplies were collected and retrieved from a location in Chicago to be delivered downstate. The State of Illinois Central Management Services (CMS) also purchased hundreds of pairs of socks and stocking caps from ICI, which pays inmates who manufacture goods and provide services. These items were sent to Brookport for those volunteers helping with relief work.
Governor Pat Quinn shook the hand of each staff member and inmate involved in the relief efforts, as well as was thanked the IDOC when the trucks delivered to Brookport were unloaded. IDOC will continue to assist with relief efforts this week and next, especially after heavy machinery operators clear the large debris left from the storm.
Two Pontiac Correctional Center employees lost their homes as a result of the tornado that hit Washington. The staff collected $1,632 over a three-day period for the affected employees, and the money was given to them on Nov. 22. The staff continues to collect money.
Last week, President Obama signed a disaster relief declaration, which freed up federal funds for the 15 Illinois counties recovering from the tornado. Gov. Quinn requested the relief after 1,000 homes in the state were declared uninhabitable and more than 2,400 homes were damaged. The declaration means that residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations in those 15 counties are eligible for grants and low-interest loans to help with disaster-related needs and damage, the governor’s office said in a statement.