East Peoria woman searches rubble for belongings after tornado destroys home

By WEEK Reporter

November 20, 2013 Updated Nov 20, 2013 at 4:08 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- The area by Stoneman Steet is just one of the hardest hit areas in East Peoria. Many people who lived on this block had homes that were damaged or destroyed.

Those people have been relocated, at least temporarily. Residents, friends and family of those affected were sifting through the rubble to help tornado victims salvage what little was left of their belongings.

"When I first saw it, I was horrified," said Greg Diveley, family member of tornado victim, Shirley Diveley. "It looked like an atomic explosion happened.

What Greg saw was his parent's East Peoria home in shambles.

"We looked across and said, 'Oh my God. Look at our house!' We could see the roof was gone," said Shirley Diveley, tornado victim and Greg's mother.

Sunday's tornado took 23 years of Shirley's memories.

"We had a living room. We had a Florida room in the back with beautiful windows, and it all crashed in," said Shirley.

The Diveleys said there were some towels, sheet and some collectibles they were able to salvage but everything else was destroyed.

"The other stuff is either rain driven or damaged in some way with the timber or the roof," said Greg.

Tuesday, Shirley's son and daughter-in-law helped her find, pack and store the belonging that were left in the tornado's debris. Even after all of this Shirley is keeping her head high.

"They're just material things," said Shirley. "We were alive. We're just thankful for that."

She was also thankful for the help from her son and daughter-in-law. She and many other said they had no timeline for when they would be able to return to their homes or how long it might take to fix them.