Taking shelter at a Washington Church

By Audrey Wise

November 17, 2013 Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 1:08 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill -- At Crossroads Church there is devastation on all sides, but the church remains almost untouched, now serving as a Red Cross Shelter.

Several of the people there were in this building when the tornado hit and now have nothing to go home to just blocks away.

"You could hear the train, like they always say," said Sally Opper.

Opper and her 15 year old daughter were one of many taking shelter at the church Sunday morning.

Opper said she wasn't afraid and thought it would pass.

"I had no idea the devastation that was happening and devastation of my house," she said.

She went out Sunday evening and learned her house took a direct hit.

"Pretty much flattened, walls caved in, my chimney's caved in and my neighbor's house is totally flat to the foundation," Opper explained.

Crossroads Pastor Tom Goodell said, "I know at least 10 families in this church have lost everything."

Goodell said more than 100 people have been at the church including victims, volunteers and emergency personnel.

"We're thrilled to be able to open the doors, I just wish it was different circumstances," he said.

He said they have been able to help people find loved ones. There has also been a steady stream of donations.

"It's just incredible the amount of food and supplies, the generosity of people is just incredible," he said.

A nurse and member of the church has organized a medical unit, treating minor injuries as they come in.

"A lot of injuries where people may have been going into their houses. We see a lot of people with nails in their feet. A lot of just superficial things," said Trish Wierenga, Rn.

All the help and generosity is not lost on the victims.

"Being on this side of things, it's an appreciation you can't put any price tag on," said Opper.

The shelter will remain open as long as it is needed.

They have generator power, cots and lots of donated food and water. Anyone seeking shelter is welcoming.

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