Volunteers help protect what is left of tornado damaged homes

By Alyssa Donovan

December 16, 2013 Updated Dec 17, 2013 at 11:44 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- Many families have finished sifting through the debris, now it is time to protect what they have left.

A group of volunteers came down from Olivet Nazarene University. They finished up finals and hit the road for Washington.

"Right after the tornado happened a lot of the students wanted to get involved," said volunteer Kristina Richardson. "This is our first week of Christmas break, so we are spending the week here and then we are all going to go home."

However, for one volunteer, Washington is home.

Tia Long was worried about her family when she heard about the tornado but their home was unaffected.

"I had to find where it hit and who was affected and who was okay,” Long said.

The group hit the streets Monday morning looking for anyone in need of some help. That is how they found Ronald Wright.

Wright's daughter had lived in her Washington home for just two weeks when the tornado hit.

On Monday, the group helped Wright clear snow from what is left of the home.

"She's doing good, she's going to have twins in February and she's got a 4 year old and a full-time job. She's stressed,” Wright said.

Over the past month, the family salvaged what they could. Now they are working to protect what is left.

Wright said once they remove all of the snow, they are going to tarp off the foundation, but they will not start rebuilding until the Spring.

Some homeowners have hired crews to work through the cold but Wright said he would rather wait for nicer weather for the contractors to get started.

"We're just getting this covered up to protect the foundation and footing so it doesn't freeze,” Wright said.