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West Virginia Begins Helping Midwest Storm Victims

Reported by: Send eMail Kera Mashek
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Nov. 18, 2013 9:47 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 19, 2013 9:37 AM EST

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Midwest Tornado Relief
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

At least eight people are dead after tornadoes rip through the Midwest. Six people in Illinois and two in Michigan are confirmed dead following those powerful storms. The National Weather Service says that an EF4 tornado cut a path across Illinois with wind speeds of up to 190 miles an hour.

The severe weather slammed many Midwestern states, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power.

Now, volunteers from across the country are starting to organize efforts to help storm victims.

Storm victims in Illinois like Chasity Tabor are trying to salvage anything that's left...

"Pictures. I have my baby bracelets from when she was born. My grandfather's cane... Everything is just-- there's just nothing," Tabor said.

Nearly 70 tornadoes left scenes like this across the Midwest. Now, efforts to help storm victims are ramping up across the country. AEP has already sent 50 workers to help restore power and assess damage in Michigan.

"We always work with other utilities. We have a mutual assistance agreement is what we call it. So when other utilities are impacted, we send our crews to help out and when we need help, other utilities send folks to help us out. So when there's a storm in another area and we can send people, we do," said Phil Moye with AEP.

This weekend, churches across West Virginia took up a special collection to help victims of another recent storm: super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. At Sacred Heart in Charleston alone, $14,000 was donated to Catholic Relief Services, which is helping provide basic needs like clothing, shelter, food and water.

"I just think it's overwhelming. I can't imagine the devastation there," said Monsignor Edward Sadie with Sacred Heart Church.

Monsignor Sadie says he has no doubt that the church will step up the plate again if asked to donate to Midwest tornado relief.

"People in Charleston are very generous. There usually is a wonderful response whenever the bishop calls for special collections, they respond very generously. So we've come to count on their generosity," Sadie said.

The West Virginia Red Cross is not deploying any volunteers to the Midwest just yet, but says it has people ready to go if the call comes and that donations are always welcome to support relief efforts.



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