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Gifford, Illinois - The Story of a Town in Recovery


On Sunday, November 17, 2013, a devastating 73-tornado outbreak occurred throughout the Midwest causing over $1.6 billion in damage, over 100 injuries, and 11 fatalities. One of the communities hit extremely hard was the small central Illinois community of Gifford. The EF3 tornado that touched down in Gifford destroyed the town’s water treatment plant (pictured below), damaged the 65,000-gallon elevated tank, the Village Hall, and destroyed the Village maintenance building. The damage left the plant unusable and the town without water for nearly two days.


Village officials had to think quickly to get the water treatment facility running after the disaster. Help came in the form of volunteers from surrounding communities. They descended on Gifford with borrowed equipment and helped set up a temporary pump, which was hooked up late Monday. The following day, volunteers and engineers were on-site assisting the staff and volunteers to set up a more stable, temporary plant with controls. In all, the process took approximately three weeks to accomplish. In the meantime, the Gifford residents were under a “boil order” to ensure health and safety. The boil order was lifted after the Village had portable pneumatic pressure tanks hooked up to the water system.


Gifford received $650,000 in USDA Rural Development Funds to rebuild its water treatment plant and to replace its water tower. The majority of the Grant ($500,000) went toward replacing the water treatment plant on the Village’s east side. The water treatment plant operated beneath a large tent (pictured below) using equipment that in some cases was borrowed from other communities for a number of months before the new building was constructed. All of the building, electrical, and mechanical work was completed a little over a year after the tornado struck Gifford. Fehr Graham's Champaign office was involved with Gifford from the outset, arriving two days after the tornado touched down until the project was completed. Today, the town of Gifford has an updated water treatment plant and hopes to have a new water tower in place by summer 2015.  

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