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Quad Cities connections help with tornado clean up

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Washington residents returning to their dismantled homes didn’t have to go alone, they were joined by their friends and neighbors. Some from the Quad Cities Area dropped everything to be there.

If there was ever a time a person might need their best friend, it might be when their house is a pile of debris.

“My best friend Dusty Dykema, this was his home,” said Jay Foster of Bettendorf.

“I pulled into the wrong street, I had no idea where I was at.  I was like our house is gone,” said Dusty Dykema who now lives in Washington, but is originally from Bettendorf.

On Tuesday, Foster drove to Washington with some supplies to help his best friend dig through the mess.

“It is jaw dropping, the pictures itself, it was insane. My jaw hurt seriously that is, it was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” said Foster.

Just around the corner from Dykema’s was Galesburg Firefighter Ben Johnson who was helping his aunt with what is left of her house.

"We're mainly clearing out their basement, whatever we can grab that isn't filled with water or isn't damaged already," said Johnson.

His aunt is happy because her family is okay, but her photo albums are nowhere to be found.

"I don't have any pictures, they're all gone and that makes me the saddest,” said Mary Ellen Bevenour of Washington, Illinois.

But just as we were saying goodbye to her, her sister found a photo album.

“The whole album? Of mom? Oh my golly!” said Bevenour.

Tammy Miller, originally from East Moline, was handing out water and food to her neighbors in Washington.

“It looks like a war zone and it is just awful,” said Miller.

Her home in Washington is okay, so she’s helping those who were less fortunate.

“We take it one day at a time and we're all pulling together,” said Miller.

Messages on garages like, “We are safe. We are blessed,” and “We will return,” say it all. Many in Washington consider themselves lucky.

“I couldn't have got much luckier,” said Dykema.

Dykema and his family were not home at the time of the tornado. They were at church. They brought their dog with them because he was not feeling well. Dykema considers himself lucky for that as well.

(Editor's note:  An online donation page was set up by friends to help the Dykema Family recover from the tornado damage.  To see that page, click here.)

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