For McHenry County residents such as Harold and Carole Curran, it was exactly what they needed.
“Nobody wanted to help, and now we’re able to find so many,” Carole Curran said. “They gave us stuff we hadn’t even thought of.”
When residents seeking help arrived at the center, located at the McHenry Township Recreation Center, 3519 N. Richmond Road, they were given an “ambassador” who would assess their needs and then guide them through the building. Joy Squier, chief communications and marketing officer for the Chicago and Northern Illinois chapters of the American Red Cross, said the center was so helpful because it was everything under one roof.
The director of emergency services for The Salvation Army, Maj. David Dalberg, said the agencies “fill all the gaps.”
“Normally people would have to call multiple agencies,” Squier said.
Carole Curran said she didn’t know who to call. She and her husband live off River Road in McHenry. River Road did not reopen until Friday afternoon because of flooding.
“[The damage is] primarily in the basement,” Carole Curran said. “The garbagemen wouldn’t take [flood refuse].”
She described the center as “amazing,” and said all of her questions were answered. She said she never expected anything like it.
Once residents entered the building, they encountered representatives from agencies such as Nicor, religious charities, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, insurance companies, veterans’ services and more.
After gathering resources, residents were led into a separate room primarily dedicated to caseworkers with the American Red Cross, who helped residents determine their next steps.
Then, based on their needs, residents were able to fill up a shopping cart with water, personal care kits, cleaning products and food boxes provided by The Salvation Army.
“We want people to go home feeling a new sense of hope,” Dalberg said. “We consider it an honor to serve in times like these.”
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks walked around the center Friday and said he was amazed by how quickly the estimated 100 volunteers came together.
“People will have all the resources they need,” Franks said. “We just need people to come and ask for help. This is recovery – the hard stuff.”
Franks said the state has been providing McHenry County with tools for relief efforts as well.
Additionally, Gov. Bruce Rauner waived penalties and interest for taxpayers who cannot file or pay on time as a result of flooding, according to a news release from the governor’s office. The waiver applies to affected taxpayers for payments or returns due between July 11 and Dec. 31.
“Our communities dealing with the unprecedented flooding in northern Illinois should focus on their loved ones and neighbors, not tax deadlines,” Rauner said in a statement. “Once these impacted families and businesses have had the time to recover, they can gather the necessary paperwork and file their returns and pay taxes.”
Organizers prepared for about 500 residents to pass through the McHenry resource center throughout the weekend. A similar event took place July 20, 21 and 22 in Lake County, and organizers estimated that they helped more than 1,000 families.
“People don’t realize that flooding is one of the most difficult [disasters] to recover from – you don’t necessarily see it,” Squier said.
The center was open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.