LaSalle County community comes together to rebuild

By Anna Yee

April 26, 2013 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 7:18 PM CDT

MARSEILLES, Ill. -- Chris Denunzio says his hometown is like the flag hanging in front of his house, tattered but held together with pride.

His Marseilles home, like many around, was ravaged by the flood.

"We had six to seven feet on the street submerged around all of our homes," said Denunzio. "It was a lake. I cried when I watched a couple blocks down, because that was the closest we could get, I cried. And I got to tell you, looking at everything now, I'm incredibly sad."

Waters have receded back into the river, and major cleanup efforts are just beginning. Most streets near the river are covered in piles of belongings, damaged in the flood.

Hundreds of residents are turning to donations for help at a Red Cross supply station.

"People coming in here, and they actually have nothing but the clothes on their back," said Steve Swett, a Red Cross volunteer. "They're going through here picking their cleaning supplies and stuff up like they're doing their everyday shopping. I mean, the attitude has really been good, and I hope they hold together."

Marseilles Elementary School remains closed due to massive flood damage, keeping students out of class for at least a few more days until they can be relocated.

"We received some books on how to talk to your children about things like this," said Dawn Burnson, mother and volunteer. "The kids are all coming out and volunteering. My son has volunteered. Every day that I have been here, he has been here."

The Red Cross will begin one-on-one damage assessment over the weekend.

Families like Denuncio's plan to rebuild their homes, and memories, from the ground up, hopeful to make the community stronger in places that are now broken.

The American Red Cross has set up several distribution sites in LaSalle/Putnam Counties for those affected by flooding to receive clean-up kits/supplies. They include:

Hennepin, IL - Old Steel Mill Hall, 1120 Old Highway 6

Utica, IL - North Utica Temporary City Hall, 105 Division St.

Marseilles, IL - Lions Club, 511 Commerical St.

Streator - Streator City Hall, 204 S Bloomington St.

Residents can visit these sites for free cleanup supplies. Anyone needing flood-related assistance should call (815) 223-0922.

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