FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) -- As the flood waters recede in Freeport, east side residents are finally able to return to their homes and begin cleaning up. The Salvation Army is responding to the damage with supplies to help those affected.
"I think every day's a new chapter, no two disasters are the same," said Captain Jim Brickson with the Freeport Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army has been doing as much as they can to help the Freeport flood victims. Now that the water level is less than 15 feet, the group is distributing disaster cleanup kits to east side residents.
"The people today have told me they are moving back into their houses now, they still got the clean up to do, but they are happy to be home even though it's a mess," said Paul Plasters, a volunteer with the Rockford Salvation Army.
The local unit has served more than 700 meals and handed out more than 100 cleanup kits since the start of this unexpected flood. Even Taylor Park Elementary School students are trying to help out.
"The school group brought over 16 bottles of bleach, 10 mops, 10 pairs of cleaning gloves and a whole lot of bottles of spic and span, so I’m also giving that out to people," said Plasters.
The Freeport Area Church Cooperative (FACC) will be pumping out water from homes, and then the Northwestern Illinois Community Action Agency (NICAA) will take over.
"Our service is going to be inspecting the furnaces and the water heaters that were affected by the flood here. FACC's coming in to do the pumping and that stuff and as soon as that's done, we'll assess and find out whether we need to help replace or repair those furnaces and water heaters that are here," said Nate Dale, with the Northwestern Illinois Community Action Agency.
NICAA will begin inspecting homes on Tuesday.
The Polaris Cooperation donated a universal recovery tool called the “The HIPPO” to the Salvation Army. The Ranger® HIPPO is a collaboration between Polaris® Defense and HIPPO Multipower to produce an ultra-light, all-terrain alternative to the traditional maintenance contact vehicle. This model allows you to access remote worksites by combining the off-road capabilities of the Polaris Ranger Diesel with the HIPPO 1041P. It's a hydraulic, air, electric and welding powerhouse in a single unit.
"The unit that we have here now came from our territorial headquarters in Chicago and it's one of several units that Polaris has donated to the Salvation Army for times just like this," said Captain Brickson.
Captain Brickson says this UTV has enhanced the groups capacity to serve food, water and cleanup services to flood victims. It has an attached dewatering pump capable of pumping 70 gallons per minute up to 150 feet.
"There are people coming from all over the region to help us out right now, so the blessing in disguise is called unity and we try to live off of that," said Captain Brickson.
The Rockford Salvation Army city command delivered several pallets of food items to be used in Freeport as they continue to recover. The local Salvation Army volunteers will be teaming up with crews from FACC and regional Mennonite Disaster Response Teams in cleanup efforts.
The cleaning supplies are at the Salvation Army Disaster Recover Unit (DRU) located at Ross Auto Glass from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through this weekend. Residents of the affected area will need to show a form of ID with a current address on the east side in order to receive a kit.