Around 100 volunteers gathered at the Forest City Fellowship Church Saturday morning, bringing with them garbage bags, cleaning supplies, and big hearts. Their goal was simple: help fellow residents recover from one of the worst floods in the Stateline's history.
The church organized the event in response to the number of calls for help they received in the days following the flood. This wasn't any ordinary cleanup effort though. Many of the homes we visited still had a lot of water in their basement.
In addition to all the personal items damaged in the flood, there were also heavy appliances in basements that were ruined and needed to be moved. The church says our community could use more efforts like Saturday’s in order to help recover.
"We saw that there was a need, we saw that other relief organizations were providing food, clothing, but there were very few people who were going into people's homes and helping people do practical things," says Julia Simmon-Moore, a coordinator for Forest City Fellowship Church.
"We want to reach out to the neighborhood and we think this is a good way to show we care about the people here," says Brian Kuczynski, who volunteered to help with the clean-up.
"This affected a lot of the poorer people in this neighborhood and they really need help," Simmon-Moore adds.
Flood victims are still coming to terms with what happened.
"I was running an EBay internet store and had a lot of books, albums and t-shirts down there that I was selling, and it’s all gone," says flood victim Dan Pace.
Pace spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up what was left of his basement.
"I was so overwhelmed and I didn't know where to start. Friends and family started and they got the ball rolling for me," he says.
Other flood victims say events like this show how even the worst storms can bring out the best in all of us.
"People are helpful. We're all a victim of disaster now, makes a common level out of all of us," says flood victim Ruth Schubert.
"They're wonderful. I just got to come in and get a cleanup kit, they gave me a voucher to get food and some clothes, that's a blessing," adds flood victim Colleen Harvey.
The church will continue to accept and distribute donations to those affected by the flood. They are in need of everything ranging from clothing to furniture.
Those wishing to make a donation can do so by contacting Forest City Fellowship Church at (815) 394-0155 or by dropping goods off at the church, located at 1300 17th Street in Rockford.