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Massive clean up follows Illinois tornadoes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Two tornadoes touched down in Springfield, Ill., March 12, leaving the capital city with two wide stretches of downed power lines, shredded roofs, fences and trees, and crushed vehicles. In the immediate aftermath of the storms, 65,000 households were left without power, 40 homes were destroyed and 230 businesses sustained damage. No lives were lost and only minor injuries were suffered in the storm, which was on the ground for less than 12 minutes.

None of the nearly 1,000 Church members in Springfield was injured, according to President Paul Kay of the Springfield Illinois Stake.

In response to the disaster, local Church leaders organized a massive clean-up effort. Six days after the storm, more than 300 volunteers came from all parts of the stake, postponing important events such as a stake youth temple trip, to help.

Meeting near the initial touchdown point of the second tornado, on Springfield's severely damaged east side, and wearing yellow T-shirts, the volunteers were a familiar sight in the city.

For the past eight years, the stake has led an annual day of service each May, called "Sprucing Up Springfield." Even the streets were familiar, as the neighborhood most deeply affected by the storms had been the focus of work projects for the past two years. Residents, who years before had been curious and somewhat distrustful of the crews wearing yellow T-shirts, came out to welcome the teams and ask for their help.

Although the volume of damage was greatest in the capital city, numerous smaller communities, with less abundant resources, also sustained damage. For members of the Jacksonville Ward, the Springfield cleanup was a follow up to their assistance to the badly damaged rural village of Murrayville.