This weekend the Northern Indiana Community Emergency Response Team, which is made up of seven counties including Elkhart County, got a call from the State Department of Homeland Security to get their volunteers and supplies on standby.
The emergency response warehouse in Elkhart has shelves stacked full of items the response team will use if they are sent to help tornado victims...cases of bottled water, food, and medical supplies. Outside a large portable trailer filled with a generator, light tower, showering system, medical backboards and more is packed and ready to go.
Jennifer Tobey is the deputy commander of the local task force. She's anxious to get her team down there to help, because she's talked with responders who are there and have told her how bad it is.
"I've got a couple of friends that told me when they first got into some of the cities and saw people in their homes with their home destroyed, people were grabbing what they could hold and walking out of town to nowhere," says Tobey.
Tobey says she has confirmation from 100 first responders, made up of police officers, fire fighters, incident management specialist and other trained professionals who are prepared to go.
"The plan is within 4 to 6 hours of getting the call we would all be there, check in, get our supplies and be on the road."
If they get the official call to help in the relief effort Tobey says some of the jobs the task force team could be given would be to distribute supplies, offer medical assistance, make sure destroyed homes are cleared and provide security.
Seeing the wide-spread devastation has left just about everyone wanting to help the victims, but Tobey is cautioning against it. She says don't just get in your car and drive down there, you may get in the way of the organized relief effort. Instead, she encourages people to sign up for emergency response classes offered through the Red Cross.
There's no guarantee the local task force will get the official call to help. But Tobey says some relief workers who've been there for days are getting tired and with the threat of more severe weather hitting later this week, the odds of them going are increasing.
And whether she says her team goes or not....you can still make a difference.
"I can tell you the people down south are asking for two things right now, money and prayers!"