Washington makes progress, still more work to be done

Following the destructive effects of a tornado which ripped through Washington, Ill. in November, continued volunteer relief has uplifted the community.

Several organizations and people alike have contributed to the relief effort, but Bethany Community Church began aiding the community the day of the tornado.

“Our worship services are held in a community center in town called Five Points Washington,” Ben Davidson, associate pastor at Bethany Community Church, said.  “Around 11:15 in the morning the tornado came through during our worship service and as soon as it passed people left Five Points to help.”

In addition, people who were in need of respite were allowed to gather at Five Points for food and water. With the help of the Five Points staff and Bethany Community Church, Five Points was turned into a temporary recovery location.

The total number of volunteers helping with relief work is near 8,000, Davidson said. The volunteers come not only from Illinois, but some have come as far as California and Minnesota to lend a hand.

A few of the duties volunteers have done for the community include clearing and hauling debris, putting debris in bags and tearing out drywall and carpet among others.

Groups tend to be sent out in teams of eight to 12 people. If a person has fewer in their group than that, Bethany Community Church can put a person with others to volunteer.

“I think we are well over half way done with the cleanup, but we still have a long way to go,” Davidson said. “There is a lot of work still to be done.”

Of the 1,400 homes that were damaged or destroyed from the tornado, approximately 900 homes have been serviced and nearly 50 percent of the debris in the surrounding areas has been removed, Davidson said.

“There is a physical need in the town and we want to address that, but it is not something we do separate from hoping to address a spiritual need in town also,” Davidson said.

Bethany Community Church has property in an old farmhouse at the moment where their offices are located, so if a person wishes to volunteer, the best manner to acquire this position is by going to Bethany Community Church’s website, Davidson said.

The website is On the website, a detailed report of frequently asked questions from volunteers is posted as a first step guide for volunteers. The next step a person should take is to make a reservation, and then show up at the property on the north side of Washington where Bethany Community Church’s offices are currently located.

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