Habitat for Humanity Begins Blitz Build in Gifford

Gifford -- Their homes were destroyed by a tornado in November, but now Gifford families are getting help to rebuild thanks to Habitat for Humanity's Blitz Build.

Ben Calhoun watched his roof blow away when a tornado touched down last November. Now, he's watching new walls go up.

"We've just slowly started rebuilding our lives, just slowly replacing all the things we lost," said Calhoun, who lived in the house with his wife and son. "Then we came across the Habitat opportunity, and it's just been amazing ever since."

Because the Calhouns are one of three Gifford families that will be moving back to an entirely new home, along with five others that are having their damaged houses restored, thanks to Habitat for Humanity's Blitz Build.

"Today we had about 75 people show up between the three houses that are working," said Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Manager, Kim Gollings. "Over the next two weeks, I will probably have about 300 volunteers that will be rotating in and out that are all coming here to pick up a hammer, put up siding, grab a paintbrush, whatever it needs."

Some volunteers came from nearby towns, like Steve Anderson, of Paxton.

"Gifford is only 20 miles from us," said Anderson. "These are like our neighbors, so we've been over here helping quite a bit and happy to help."

Others traveled farther to lend a helping hand.

"We have volunteers coming from Wisconsin, coming from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania--I myself and from Pennsylvania," said Victoria Goff of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, which brought in volunteers from across the country. "From West Virginia, and of course throughout here in Illinois."

But regardless of where they are from, they all picked up tools to help the Calhouns pick up the pieces.

"Just still kind of shocked to believe that in just two to three weeks we'll be in our house," said Calhoun.

Each of the new homes will have either a crawl space or a full basement.
Current Conditions