(UNDATED) - The deadly March 2, 2012, tornado which swept through the region devastating parts of Pekin and the Daisy Hill community changed Washington County forever.
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell of the Leader-Democrat reports that in addition to the five members of the Babcock-Brough family who died, many people lost homes, belongings, businesses and jobs.
At least 12 businesses were destroyed and many have not reopened. There were 124 residences either destroyed or damaged as well. Rebuilding efforts are continuing.
The date of the tornado will be commemorated with a remembrance ceremony this Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Pekin Park. A tree and plaque will be dedicated, along with prayer and a balloon release. Refreshments will be served.
Due to inclement weather, ceremony will still be held at Pekin Park. Refreshments will be served in the recreational center of the Pekin United Methodist Church immediately following the service.
Melissa Burton is one of those involved in planning the ceremony. She organized the relief center that operated out of the Pekin United Methodist Church following the tornado. Relief is still being extended to those in need.
"We helped well over 150 people and a lot of them we assisted multiple times while the relief center was open and some of them even after we closed the center," she said. "We let them know we were here for them for the long haul through the rebuilding process."
At this point, there is not a stockpile of readily available items. Burton said there are limited quantities of personal hygiene items. "If we have a person that has a certain need we do our best to help them get what they need."
While the tornado dealt a blow from which it will take years to recover, Burton said she was overwhelmed at the show of support from groups, churches, clubs, families and individuals far too numerous to name.
"It's really hard to try and put a dollar amount on the goods that were donated; how do you put a price on something that came from someone's heart?" she said. "I can tell you this, that our community was devastated, but yet blessed by all the donations that were received, from locals, surrounding counties, surrounding states and others across the U.S., let alone the volunteers who came and donated their time out in the field picking up debris or cooking meals, helping victims get what they needed in the relief center.
"No you can't put a price on that, I would feel like I was shorting someone or an organization. I can only say that we will never be able to fully express all the gratitude we have for each and everyone who made sure our community was not forgotten."
Also Saturday, at 6 p.m., there will be a candlelight service to remember the Babcock-Brough family. The ceremony will take place at the family's gravesite in Crown Hill Cemetery.
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