MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Thinking back to July 19, 2018, Linda Ruitt said, “The destruction and devastation just blows my mind.” A lot of change has happened in nine months. “The porch just smashed down and the front part just smashed down,” said Joel Hernandez who is busy with rehabbing his home after the tornado.
For a good portion of Marshalltown tornado victims, their damage remains untouched. “We figure more than half of the homeowners had their damage addressed or under construction, but that still leaves a sizable number who are looking for some help,” said Arlene McAtee, executive director for Mid-Iowa Community Action.
A family resource fair Tuesday at Marshalltown’s Woodbury Elementary provided residents the help they still need after the EF-3 tornado in July. “A recovery from a disaster like this can take two to four years,” said McAtee. She added, “They are discovering their insurance isn’t working quite the way they want, so we are bringing in all the resources in town to meet those need.”
The continued resources are coming from groups like the American Red Cross, Mid-Iowa Community Action, Marshall County Emergency Management, United Way, Iowa Legal Aid and tree replanting services. “It wiped out all eight of my mature trees. Not a leaf of shade in my yard. The tree landed on a porch on my back area and that has to be torn down and replaced,” Ruitt said.
The resource fair is also tackling the emotional side. A summer camp signup for 300 kids will go through the one-year anniversary helping children mentally. “It’s for kindergarten to third grade, called Camp Noah. It’s a resiliency camp and helps them prepare to deal with what they may have experienced, processing what they experienced last year and how to deal with that, but also thinking about the future, how they can prepare for occurrences that might be more frightening,” said McAtee.
As temperatures ramp up so is construction. Hernandez said, “I’ve been working everyday, everyday non-stop.” The efforts are proving that the tornado brought devastation but not despair. “I like it here. I like this town,” said Hernandez.
Camp Noah is free for the community. Homeowners who need assistance or additional resources can call Mid-Iowa Community Action at 641-485-3596 or the Marshalltown United Way.