Quincy police provide helping hand to Washington relief efforts

Parts of Washington, Illinois lay in ruin after the tornado

It's been more than two weeks since the Washington, Ill. tornado touched down.

Even though Washington is closer to Peoria than Quincy, word of the devastation hit hearts close to home.

It was an almost immediate reaction for some Quincy police officers. A group arrived within hours of the tornado touching down to provide relieve.

The storm system that caused the tornado that hit Washington damaged nearly a thousand homes and killed seven people throughout the state.

A small community of around 15,000 people, Washington is two and a half hours northeast of Quincy.

Deputy Chief Dennis Bingheim and members from his unit arrived in Washington around 5 hours after the tornado struck.

"When a community is faced with a major disaster or incident, it can be rather overwhelming," he said. "The city has the resources to deal with most things. If it was something that was only going to take a day or two to get over, it wouldn't be a problem. In an incident such as this, they were looking at a response that was taking several days long and then a recovery period that's going to be much longer. So the added support comes in to just relief the people of that community, from some of the things that they have to do to recover."

Sgt. Jeff Nevin was stationed at the entrance to neighborhoods to prevent looters and con artists from gaining access to victims.

"Everything was flattened in some areas, I mean you'd go down one road, and there wasn't a house left standing," he said. "You'd go to another road, and one house was down and the house next to it looked like it didn't loose a shingle. And there's no rhyme or reason to how it works. You're lucky it wasn't you, but you're also glad you're there to help. It's a quirk of nature. You never know when it could be you, and you hope other people would come and help when it is us."

Both officers saw multiple agencies from numerous towns all dedicating their time so efforts could continue.

"Without that, you're not going to be able to get disasters like this. If the communities not supporting the police departments or your fire departments, or just the city in general, and each other, it's not going to work. To credit the people of Washington, I never heard anybody complaining about anything going on, it was we'll get through this, and we'll move on," Niven said.

This wasn't the first disaster relief effort Quincy officers had participated in.

Officers were also on the scene when Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast in 2012.