Franklin County EMA back home after helping tornado victims - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Franklin County EMA back home after helping tornado victims

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. -- Members of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency (FCEMA) are back from central Illinois after helping Taylorville tornado victims. 

Nearly 30 tornadoes touched down in Illinois on Saturday, the worst was an EF 3 that hit Taylorville. 

Three hours after the storm touched down the FCEMA drove 130 miles north because they had the best equipment to help. 

Director of the FCEMA Ryan Buckingham says the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association called his team shortly after the storm. 

"Our mobile operations center consist of basically a mobile office on wheels," Buckingham said. "We can operate an entire emergency from that location and fit about 12 people inside with internet, phone, TVs and anything we need to manage an event." 

The unit is one of only two in the state. The other is in McHenry County in northern Illinois. After spending two full days in Taylorville, FCEMA members say they saw it all. 

"We've seen everything from minor damage to homes that we can call habitable so people can continue to live there, to home that were completely destroyed," Buckingham said.

The storm damaged more than 500 homes and injured 26 people. The outbreak of tornadoes set the record for the most amount of tornadoes during the month of December in Illinois history. 

"I think this incident really highlights that we've seen major tornadoes in the winter months before so people need to make sure they are prepared all 12 months of the year," Buckingham said.

Even though the FCEMA was able to return home, Buckingham says the affected areas still need help. 

"Luckily when we arrived Saturday night most of the life safety issues had already been handled and were in the process of being completed," he said. "But, there is still a lot of work left to be done." 

If you would like to donate to those affected by the Taylorville tornado you can donate to the Red Cross. 

Currently the Red Cross is maxed out on food and water donations. However, monetary donations are still being accepted. 

To donate to the Red Cross by visiting their website, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text "RedCross" to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

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