Three months after a tornado swept through Eldon, a local organization is continuing to help storm victims, and city officials are debating how to use donations given for relief efforts.
As of Monday, the Eldon Ministerial Alliance has helped 53 families impacted by the May 22 tornado, said Pastor Bill Foglesong of First Christian Church of Eldon.
The Eldon Ministerial Alliance received more than $33,300 in donations for tornado relief, Foglesong said. Of that amount, the organization has so far provided nearly $9,144 to tornado victims as of Monday.
The alliance does not have anyone housed in hotels and is now helping with other needs, Foglesong said.
"I just helped a lady just a minute ago that I found out had been in the tornado and she was struggling with her utilities, so I paid her utility bill for her," Foglesong said Monday. "There's a lady who needs a new roof, and we're waiting for the weekend to come and get the materials done and get the volunteers to put it up."
Besides cash donations, others have been donating their time or goods. A couple of furniture stores have donated bed frames and mattresses, while volunteers have stepped up to help move tornado victims.
"I still can't say enough of all of the extra hours people put in and volunteer time that a lot of the community put in to sustain the group," Foglesong said. "Every now and then, if I've got furniture that I got delivered or somebody's finally gotten a location to go forward and I can help them move their stuff, the volunteers have been ready and willing to assist me in getting the person moved."
Foglesong said he is also thankful for help from various churches, the United Way of Central Missouri, Ameren Missouri, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Management Agency.
To help Miller County residents who were impacted by the tornado, Eldon city officials collected nearly $23,873 in donations, City Clerk Stacie Howk said.
City officials posted a poll on Facebook asking Eldon residents how they would like the city to use the donations. However, the poll was later removed.
While officials have not determined yet what to do with the funds, Howk said, a couple of possible options include purchasing a new tornado warning siren for the community or donating the funds to nonprofits or churches.
"I think the lawyer was still looking into where the money could be dispersed," Howk said.
It has been heartwarming to see the community come together to help storm victims, Foglesong said.
"I've been here for about five years, and as refreshing as it is, I've come to almost expect it in Eldon because that's the way Eldon is — small community, and they rally around each other quite a bit whenever there's something major that happens," he said.
Tornado victims who need assistance can visit Foglesong at Eldon First Christian Church, 102 S. Aurora, or call 573-392-8282. Foglesong said they must be able to provide their FEMA registration number.
Disaster victims whose homes and/or businesses were affected by storms, tornadoes and flooding between April 29 and July 5 can register for federal assistance by calling 800-621-3362 or visiting DisasterAssistance.gov.
The deadline to register for federal disaster assistance is Sept. 9.