Oak Lawn knows a thing or two about recovering from a tornado. In April 1967, the worst tornado to ever hit the Chicago area leveled huge swaths of Oak Lawn.
So when a tornado hit Henryville, IN, earlier this month, Oak Lawn-resident Debra Brandt, who has family and friends in the area, knew that she needed to help with the recovery effort.
Brandt is collecting such items as First Aid supplies, socks, underwear, work gloves and hand sanitizer to deliver to the Indiana tornado victims. (See the list at the end of the story.)
“Henryville had 200 homes that were destroyed,” Brandt said. “Nobody passed away, but there were injuries.”
The mother, Stephanie Decker, who lost her legs saving her children as their home was destroyed by the tornado, resides in Henryville.
Brandt said her 17-year-old niece was dismissed early from school on March 2 when tornadoes were reported in the area. Her sister’s girlfriend picked her niece up from school. They were both home safe in neighboring Charleston when the E4 tornado—second on the Fugita scale of tornado intensity—struck Henryville.
The twister continued from Henryville to Maryville where it destroyed 1,100 homes. After the tornado struck the area, it was hours before Brandt’s sister was able to locate her son.
“My sister was at work when the tornado hit,” Brandt said. “It took hours to find him. He was huddled in a closet in a house across the street.”
Brandt is working with the Henryville Community Church, which is aiding in the recovery effort. All donated goods will be distributed from the church to area residents impacted by the tornado.
She plans to collect donations through the evening of March 22 when leaves for Henryville.
“I know the area and the town,” she said. “I can do down there.”
So far, several local Girl Scout troops are taking up collections. Others had had their employers offer to write checks for the Indiana tornado victims.
“I want to rent a U-Haul,” Brandt said. “The area is devastated. I will bring whatever I can get.”
If your scout troop, school, church or workplace wishes to take up a collection for the Henryville tornado victims or to drop off items, contact Debra Brandt by phone at 708-499-4920.
Those wishing to make monetary donations can send checks payable to Henryville Community Church, P.O. Box 214, Henryville, IN, 47126. Indicate “recovery” in the memo line on the check.
Following are the items most needed by tornado victims living in shelters and temporary homes, per the request of Henryville Community Church:
- Body wash/soap
- Baby shampoo, baby lotion, baby powder, baby wipes
- Disposable diapers, all sizes
- Bleach wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- First Aid supplies, bandages, anti-bacterial spray/ointment, gauze, tape, ace bandages, etc.
- Feminine products
- Pain reliever (aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen)
- Over-the-counter allergy relief medication
- Cough syrup, cough drops, flu/cold relief medication
- Brand new socks, T-shirts, underwear – all adult and children’s sizes, men and women
- Work gloves
- Dish soap
- Laundry detergent