Conn. Residents Fear for Loved Ones in Midwest

By Jamie Ratliff and Ari Mason
|  Monday, Nov 18, 2013  |  Updated 7:20 AM EDT
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    As Connecticut residents watch scenes of destruction unfold in the Midwest after tornadoes swept through the area, many fear for the safety of loved ones who live in the path of the storm.

    Joanne Thomann, who lives in Hebron, has been unable to reach family members in Chicago.

    "It's a little nerve-wracking, waiting for the e-mail to come in," Thomann said.

    One of Thomann's friends lives in Washington, Ilinois., which has been ravaged by tornadoes and taken the brunt of the force. At least six people were killed in the Illinois storms and dozens more have been injured.

    "Two blocks away in their neighborhood, it's totally wiped out. It's very, very devastating out there," Thomann said.

    Jennifer McLeod, of Hebron, is keeping tabs on family members in Indiana. Her family took pictures of the destruction left behind by tornadoes ripping through Lebanon, one of the harder-hit areas of the state.

    "When I read the areas, they're places I've picnicked at, played at, been to," McLeod said.

    The photos showed a home ripped apart with debris scattered everywhere. In one picture, a car is shown flipped onto its side, resting next to buildings that were torn apart.

    Oxford resident Kathy Bullivant moved from the Washington area just a few years ago.

    "It's sad to see the devastation that our friends have just gone through," she said.

    With victims facing the monumental task of cleaning up and starting over, many are wondering where to begin.

    "They've been hit so often by floods, storms, I wonder, how often can you pick back up and rebuild? How often do you have to do that?" McLeod asked.

    Local Red Cross chapters are pitching in to provide aid and relief to those affected. The Connecticut chapter hasn't yet been asked to send help, but spokesman Paul Shipman said members are at the ready.

    "Leaders have been reaching out to the team, asking people to give their availability in case they do need to deploy," Shipman said, adding that at this point, the Red Cross is still trying to understand the scope of the damage and gauge how to best help out affected residents.

    Shipman said the relief work starts with providing shelter, then bringing food and water into the community as it becomes safe to do so.

    Airlines were also affected by the storms. Three flights headed to Bradley International from airports in the Midwest were canceled yesterday – one from Chicago, another from Cleveland and the third from Washington, Ill., according to airport spokesman John Wallace.

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