November 17th marks the 7th anniversary of the Washington tornado - a day many of us in Central Illinois will never forget, nor should we. For Menold, it was a time like no other - a time where all hands were on deck to help our community in need.
Two of the our Lead Technicians who were heavily involved with the tornado clean up were Rachel and Angie, and these two women worked endless hours around the clock. The weather seemed off that day, and all day long Rachel had an 'eerie' feeling. She remembers standing at the bottom of Springfield Road in the church parking lot thinking how strange the weather was that day, and not even 20 minutes later, she saw the tornado's destruction on the news. Angie was visiting her mother in Oregon, IL when she received alert after alert on her phone. Both women had no idea how the next few months would go.
Typically, when we experience a huge surge in calls, or a "CAT" event, the entire Menold team forfeits our day-to-day work. It becomes and all-hands-on-deck event, and it's always amazing to see how our team works together. During the week to follow the Washington tornado, however, our back log was filling up and phones had to go off the hook. The emergency work was huge but we could not even access much of it until the streets were cleared and containment of the situation was established. A week later, with contractor permits in all of the Menold truck windshields, we could finally begin the clean-up.
According to Angie, the strangest thing was walking on carpeted floors, seeing family pictures still hanging on the walls, and following hallways leading her throughout what was left of the home, only to look up to no ceiling. Our team would walk through homes that were completely open to the sky. It was eerie to see kitchen cupboards with doors gone but water glasses still standing - how bizarre and eery a natural disaster can be. To Angie, it felt like she was standing on a different continent, but it was basically our backyard.
We helped clean up 23 houses over the following weeks - boxes worth of belongings that went for cleaning and then storage while the homes were rebuilt. It was more than our Menold warehouse could handle so we then looked to rent additional warehouse storage at a facility in Morton.
In the blink of an eye, that November day 7 years ago, many lives were changed. It was a good reminder to all of us at Menold that we can not always plan out our days or even hours. It was also a great reminder that community is key, and we were awed at how Central Illinois bonded together to help those affected make it through. May we never forget the gift of each other.