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Community continues to support victims of Marengo home explosion

MARENGO – Days after a home explosion tore through a Marengo neighborhood, debris has been cleared from the street, windows and garage doors have been boarded up, and insurance catastrophe team cars line the curbs.

But the journey for families who live in the 500 block of Seventh Circle has just begun.

Mike and Dawn St. Clair’s home was at the center of the explosion. The St. Clair family declined to speak with the Northwest Herald, but Mike’s sister, Sandy Shelby, said the family is unsure what to do next.

The family, who has lived in the Marengo house for years, is back in the area, staying in a motel. They were on vacation when the explosion occurred.

Shelby started a YouCaring.com site to raise money for her relatives Monday night, and it already was more than halfway to its $5,000 goal by Tuesday afternoon.

“I started the site because they’ll have to replace everything. What they have with them from vacation is all they have,” Shelby said. “Think about the things they need for everyday life – work clothes, silverware – what would it cost to replace everything?”

The Marengo community also wasted no time in responding to the plight of its neighbors. Marengo area OutReach Enterprises (M.O.R.E.) Center is a nonprofit that serves individuals and families in need throughout the Marengo and Union areas. The organization, which acts primarily as a food pantry, offered to act as the hub for relief donations.

“We’re not wired to be able to handle this kind of a situation on our own. I know so many people – I’ll use the catchphrase – living paycheck to paycheck,” M.O.R.E. Board of Directors President Jeff Perkins said. “Something like this can just totally derail you. We’re trying to make sure we can give them the support we can in whatever way we can.”

Local business people and members of the community came to the center in a steady stream Tuesday morning. Perkins said the situation made those in need difficult to help. He said that because everyone was scattered, living temporarily with relatives or in nearby hotels, the center was unsure what goods to collect.

M.O.R.E. board member Connie Boxleitner said monetary donations could help victims pay electric bills and buy food once they find a new home.

“We’ve never had to deal with something like this, and when we ask other towns, they haven’t either,” Boxleitner said. “I always knew Marengo was a good town to live in, but I am just amazed.”

Shelby said that money and prayers would help most so soon after the explosion.

“One of their neighbors called and said she found a Mother’s Day card, and I know that’ll mean so much to them,” Shelby said. “You read about this type of stuff all the time, but when it’s your family, it hits your heart.”

How to help 
What: All donations to help those affected by the home explosion in Marengo are going through the nonprofit M.O.R.E. Center
Where: The M.O.R.E. Center, 829 Greenlee St., Marengo
Send checks to: Checks must be written out to the M.O.R.E. Center and have “Marengo Disaster Fund” in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to the M.O.R.E. Center, 829 Greenlee St., Marengo, IL 60152
Other donations: Nonperishable food, clothing and small appliances can be dropped off at the M.O.R.E. Center from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday.
Website: marengomorecenter.org
Phone: 815-568-7950

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