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BLOOMINGTON — Mother Nature sent wind, snow and cold. Central Illinois responded with shelter, food and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

As the blizzard of 2011 bore down on Central Illinois Tuesday afternoon, shelters and warming centers opened and employees traded shifts and drove each other to work to make sure that people got the services they need.

American Red Cross of the Heartland worked with Emergency Management Agency officials to open warming centers for people without food and shelter and for stranded motorists, several of whom had to stay overnight, said Scott Vogel of the Red Cross. Shelters were at Miller Park Pavilion, 1020 S. Morris Ave., Bloomington; Central Illinois Regional Airport, 3201 CIRA Drive, Bloomington; Chenoa Fire Department, 920 E. Cemetery Ave., Chenoa; Pontiac Recreational Complex, 900 N. Elm St., Pontiac; Dwight High School, 910 S. Franklin Ave., Dwight; LeRoy Christian Church; and The Salvation Army, 126 S. Bloomington St., Streator.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln was designed as a warming center for Logan County, said hospital spokeswoman Marty Ahrends.

Home Sweet Home Ministries had collected extra mattresses, cots, blankets, bedding, hats and gloves in case more people arrived at the Billy Shelper Center for the homeless, said spokeswoman Sabrina Burkiewicz. Extra food has been prepared beforehand and there have been meetings with staff to determine who has four-wheel drive vehicles and can drive others to work, who can work a double-shift to cover for employees who can’t make it in and who can stay overnight in the shelter.

In the event of a power outage, residents will be transported to the shelter at Miller Park Pavilion, she said.

“We’re definitely going into survival mode,” Burkiewicz said.

The Salvation Army’s Safe Harbor homeless shelter opened its warming center for additional people at 5 p.m. Tuesday and was ready with ample food and appropriate staffing, spokeswoman Andrea Raycraft said.

Peace Meal did not deliver meals to 550 older adults in Central Illinois on Tuesday and won’t today to keep drivers and cooks safe, assistant director Barb Seagren said. However, on Monday, frozen meals were delivered along with hot meals to people with the greatest need, she said.

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