By Therese Porod
Benedictine University opened their arms to the 180 flood victims and displaced people last weekend.
“It means a whole lot to me and my family, especially my daughter. We’re happy there’s a place like this to help the ones like us in need. We are very appreciative,” said Ruby Mojica, a resident of Four Lakes and a flood victim.
When severe rain hit Illinois last week, most of the residents were not expecting the outcome of this weather.
The rain caused the ponds located in Four Lakes to overflow, turning those small ponds into a giant lake, according to Jacki Kaluzny, resident of Four Lakes and student of Benedictine University.
The majority of people who came to Benedictine for help were evacuated by boat and helicopter from Four Lakes.
“My sister was stuck in our apartment by herself for a day, and I couldn’t get back into the apartment for 24 hours,” Kaluzny explained.
Nearly 200 people sought refuge and help at the Benedictine University relief center in Krasa last Thursday. About 39 people spent the night in Krasa, according to Michi Dubes, Emergency Preparedness Manager and Safety Specialist. On Friday, there were about 30 people who still sought help and refuge at Benedictine.
“This is by far the heaviest amount of people we’ve seen come and use the shelter,” Dubes said.
This is the 4th time that Benedictine was opened as a relief shelter. The first time was during the blizzard if 2011, in which there was a maximum of 33 people who took refuge in the shelter, explained Dubes.
“It’s never happened here before. I’ve lived here for 19 years, and even when we had the blizzard of 2011, it wasn’t this bad,” explained Azfar Ali, freshman at Benedictine and volunteer.
Benedictine and the Red Cross devoted their time to the needs of the people, who were given the opportunity of staying Thursday night through Saturday, Dubes explained.
The displaced people were provided army cots, blankets, and pillows. The Red Cross provided people with care packages, containing fleece blankets, socks, shaving cream, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and shampoo.
The Lisle food bank and local businesses were able to donate food, but people were also able to eat in the Krasa cafeteria and CoalBen.
The displaced people were not the only ones who needed a place to stay: there were many dogs and cats that came on Thursday; however, they were unable to spend the night. One lady even brought her pet macaw with her.
The success of the shelter was greatly due to the dedicated volunteers. According to Dubes, there were about 15 or more staff and student volunteers.
“I was born and raised in Lisle, so it hits home to me. It’s my home, and I have to do something,” stated Ali.
Dubes explained that she and Marco Masini, Vice President of Student Life at Benedictine, received a call that they were in need of student volunteers. Joan Henehan, Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development, had a shelter-training program for students, which was very beneficial for this unfortunate event.
“Nightmare, still can’t believe it. Never been through this ever to know this actually happened, and there’s a place we can come and be taken care of is wonderful,” explained Mojica about her reaction to what has happened.
“With God’s help, we should be okay,” Mojica continued, with hope in her eyes.