First responders bring aid, support to hurricane-ravaged communities

WILLIAMSVILLE, Ill. (WAND) — Lt. Taryn Brown of the Williamsville Fire Department is back on her home soil — tired but fulfilled.

"It was a little overwhelming at first — just seeing all the stuff that got ruined," she said.

Brown was part of the team of first responders that traveled to Jacksonville, NC to assist with Hurricane Florence recovery. Community leaders from Williamsville and Spaulding spearheaded the project.

"It says a lot for everybody to come together to help a community of people we've never even met before," said Spaulding village trustee Mary Ann Burge.

But now the two villages are having to team up again. Hurricane Michael decimated parts of the Gulf Coast and while larger cities like Panama City need loads of help, smaller towns need it just as badly.

"The small communities are sometimes overlooked," said Ofc. Ryan Harmon of Williamsville PD. "They're often the communities in the shadows of the big cities."

"What if it were me and my community?" asked Burge. "What if my community was going through a crisis like this? I would hope there would be other communities that would come together and help us."

Firefighters and police from the two villages plan for another group to drive supplies to Port St. Joe, Fla. — a group Brown once again plans to be a part of.

"It doesn't matter if it's old, young, big town, small town," she said. "All I want to do is help people."

Donations of medical supplies or nonperishable food can be brought to either the Spaulding or Williamsville police departments before Oct. 25.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Spirit of Central Illinois, email Deron Molen ( or click here