In typical Iowa fashion, let’s pitch in and help

On Saturday, there were 27 reports of tornadoes in western Iowa to the National Weather Service. Experts confirmed 10 twisters in five counties damaging as many as 225 homes in four counties. Mapleton was hit particularly hard. The town of fewer than 1,300 people saw at least 142 homes and businesses ravaged. Fortunately and miraculously, no one was killed.

It’s a reminder that tornado season in this state can be devastating. The recent twisters are also a reminder of the resilience and generosity of Iowans.

Residents immediately did what Iowans always do when Mother Nature hits hard: They helped each other. Volunteers from surrounding communities pitched in. Hy-Vee sent a team of caterers to serve food. Students cleaned up at their schools, raking debris and preparing for a prom that will go on despite the setback.

On the other side of the state, administrators at Aplington-Parkersburg High School loaded up students to head to Mapleton. In 2008, Parkersburg was hit by the state’s deadliest twister in decades. It devastated the community, and people came from all over to help. Students there were intent on repaying the favor.

“We feel strongly we need to be there to help clean up. We will go where we are needed,” said Principal Dave Meyer.

We will go where we are needed. It’s like a motto in this state following natural disasters, from floods to tornadoes. And more help is needed.

Though devastated communities rely on federal disaster assistance, Iowans should donate to the organizations providing assistance in Mapleton and surrounding areas.

The Salvation Army in Siouxland has mobilized teams of officers, employees and volunteers. The Red Cross is providing food and water to families and workers. The organization opened a shelter, which has now been converted to a service center. Mental health workers are available to help those affected.

“The money donated is used to help people, said Tammie Pech of the Siouxland Area Chapter of the Red Cross. She said those dollars help provide everything from medication and eyeglasses to groceries and temporary housing.

Words can’t fully describe the terror of an oncoming tornado – from noise to flying debris to the unpredictability of what may happen in the next few seconds. Left behind can be a community that looks as though it exploded, with lost homes and businesses and family mementos.

The force of Mother Nature cannot be controlled. What we can control is how we respond in the aftermath. That includes providing immediate support with basics like food and cleanup and getting a community on track to rebuild and move forward. Iowans can all be a part of doing that for our neighbors.

Apr 13th, 2011 | Posted in Fashion
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