Tornado destroys Illinois Catholic church; death toll reaches 12
Published: March 1, 2012
RIDGWAY, Ill. (CNS) -- Elizabeth Schmitt, who planned to get married in May at St. Joseph Church in Ridgway, never imagined she would be picking up debris from the gothic church that was completely destroyed in the Feb. 29 tornado. Tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest and the South, killing at least a dozen people and injuring more than 100 in Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee. "It gives a whole new meaning to destruction," Schmitt said as she pulled on her gloves to continue cleaning up the church property. The church, built in 1894, was destroyed just after 5 a.m. by a tornado that tore through the small southern Illinois town with a population of about 800. "You just never imagine something like this was going to happen," Schmitt told The Messenger, newspaper of the Belleville Diocese. Now she doesn't know where her wedding will take place. "This is where all of our family members were married," she said as she looked around at the devastation. In Missouri, the tornado caused heavy damage particularly to the country music resort of Branson. "These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and widespread damage and debris continue to pose significant risk to lives and property," said Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who declared a state of emergency along with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Susamma Seeley, director of disaster response for Catholic Charities Missouri, told Catholic News Service March 1 that local Catholic Charities agencies were "on standby" as they were determining the scope of damage and needs of local residents. In Branson, Catholic Charities planned to partner with a Red Cross agency to provide a resource center to provide for area needs.
Copyright (c) Catholic News Service /U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the prior written authority of Catholic News Service .