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$3 Million Fundraising Goal For Fairdale Rebuild

Guy Stephens

Recovery efforts continue in Fairdale after last month's deadly tornado. Of the 66 homes destroyed, it's estimated more than 50 residents want to rebuild. The DeKalb County Community Foundation has a pass through fund called the DeKalb County Disaster Recovery Fund – to receive donations/contributions from donors to support the recovery efforts.

Bill Nicklas is leading the DeKalb County Long Term Recovery Corporation to coordinate the rebuild. He says representatives have been meeting regularly with residents to determine the long-term needs of the community and to find out how many want to rebuild.

"It wasn't appropriate, we thought, just to guess what those needs might be, or just go on what we had learned from some of the relief organizations because things were changing almost on a daily basis," Nicklas said.

Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Dan Templin is Executive Director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation. He estimates $3 million will need to be raised to assist the residents of Fairdale. That includes working out a septic plan, and possibly a community playground as well as helping individual families.

"The Community Foundation is not charging any administrative fees," Templin said. "We've got their back. There is a structure in place to provide consistent, caring support for them."

The organization hopes to bring in the bulk of the funds within the next 60 days.

"We can't wait years, or people will just lose hope. They are anxious to have their own home again. They are living at the grace of friends and relatives and sometimes strangers. That is all fine, but it is not the same as having your own home," Nicklas said.

The Long Term Recovery Corporation is using a model that was brought in for residents of Washington, Ill., which experienced extensive tornado damage in 2013. It involves designating local "caseworkers" to respond to requests from Fairdale residents. Right now, that includes requests for hardware, or transportation to doctor's appointments.

"We'll turn out the light when everybody who was affected by the tornadoes is able to say they've been able to re-establish their house and home," Nicklas said.

What's Next

The DeKalb County Board is moving to rezone Fairdale to a mixed-use development to allow the county to adjust regulations for residents who want to rebuild while maintaining health and safety standards.  A vote is planned for July 1. Residents would then be able to submit applications for building permits immediately thereafter.

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