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New mayor faces challenges after tornado

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) -- He campaigned on cleaning up the streets of Taylorville. Now, 18-months on the job, Mayor Bruce Barry is taking on one of the biggest messes to hit the small town.

"Our town's really a disaster zone and who would've thought that?"

With more than 500 homes wrecked by an EF-3 tornado, he's got a lot on his hands. Barry is working to help his community rise from the rubble.

"I thought the biggest thing would be trying to clean the streets and pick up the leaves and do things like that and now you've got to deal with this, but we'll deal with it."

In the face of disaster, Mayor Barry isn't cracking under the pressure. Every day, all day, he's on duty, taking calls, making calls and putting boots on the ground.

"These contractors are going around soliciting things."

Thursday, he made his rounds, first dropping off food for prisoners helping clean the roads and checking on volunteers. With more than 500 homes wrecked and countless families in need, there's no time for a break.

"Taylorville never received any type of tornado damage like this and it's really just amazing the outpouring of the community."

Since the tornado struck, agencies from around the state have come to help. National Presbyterian volunteers just arrived. Barry is their destruction tour guide. Once the tour wraps, it's back to the board room for updates.

"From what I understand, we had a pretty successful mild following with Kincade."

Barry, who was born and raised here, says he's optimistic it will make a comeback.

"Hopefully, within a week or two, hopefully before Christmas, we can get all of this cleaned up and people back in their homes. Taylorville Strong!"

City officials are still assessing the damage to decide if state or federal funds will be available. Friday, a multi-agency resource center will be available for victims needing help getting back on their feet.

The American Red Cross opened Saturday night to help families impacted by the tornado. Eleven people took advantage of overnight stays. It closed its shelter about 5 pm, Thursday.


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