Phone calls are flooding into the city of Belvidere. Residents just want to know what they can do to help. Friday, city officials put their heads together to decide how the “City of murals” can help paint a new picture of hope for hurricane victims.
The pictures from April 21, 1967 are a moment in time many in Belvidere still remember. A violent tornado struck just as school was getting out. 24 people were killed and hundreds injured.
Belvidere School Superintendent Don Schlomann says, "Our neighbors and friends came through for us so I think it's time we repay them for that debt."
Belvidere city leaders, school officials and area churches spent the morning brainstorming. An initial idea was to bring in a small amount of hurricane victims and house them in the Boone County Fairgrounds. But more dialogue brought even better ideas. Church leaders came up with a plan where community members could sponsor a family. This would not only provide a roof over their heads, but while the storm victims are here the community would help fund food, clothes, schooling just of the many things needed to re-build a whole new life.
Pastor Dale Anderson with the Belvidere Assembly of God stated, “Let’s see what the needs are, then give money, give out time and give our talent. First we need to find out the needs then we'll meet them."
Superintendent Schlomann says he has a bus company that is willing to go and pick-up victims. He states, "We have retired teachers, communicators, everybody saying how can we help."
This is one community using their own past experience with a natural disaster to help other communities.
Leland Onley with the Boone County Emergency Management Agency tells 23 News, “I think the plan is to first go and get these people, then we will bring them back to our community and take care of there needs.”
This Sunday when the community heads to church area pastors are going to first ask for financial assistance and then ask for emotional support that will be needed when the victims arrive. The City of Belvidere wants to help your family and friends who may be suffering as a result of the Hurricane Katrina.
Any names or contact information of family or friends that you have can be passed onto Leland Onley who is responsible for emergency management in Belvidere. Call him at 547-7316.
Another information meeting will be held September 8th.