WINTERSET, Iowa — When a tornado hit Winterset on March 5th, six people died and more than 50 homes were destroyed or damaged.
When the storm hit, there was an immediate need for a shelter to assist those who were impacted by the storm. The New Bridge Church on the west side of town was set as the official tornado shelter. They offered up hot meals, and all kinds of household items, and some clothing for those in need.
There were many volunteers who helped to run the shelter. Two of those people had also served their country in the Vietnam War.
“I worked for the assistant chief of staff in Intelligence,” said John Schaull, who serves as the Interim Pastor for New Bridge Church, in addition to his volunteer work for tornado victims. “It involved providing communication support to the US Ambassador in Laos and then also to be involved in terms of sending out information related to the bombing requests for the country including the Ho Chi Minh trail.”
“I went with the fourth division out of Fort Lewis Washington,” said Eldon Cole. “We were what you called a stack outfit that means everything we have can fit in a truck and operate out of the truck.”
While there, Cole saw the dark side of war.
“Incredible damaged bodies, the compound we were at when I was in Pleiku, was right next to the Medivac, and the people that were getting torn up in battle.”
Both volunteers have worked in disaster relief far away, and now close to home.
“John and I have been on some disaster relief like hurricanes in Florida and stuff like that and this is similar,” said Cole.
“You don’t have the military structure, but there is a pecking order even in disaster relief to who’s in charge and how things get done,” said Shaull.
“I think God creates us all to do something and I believe, we both feel that we’re here to serve, and this is pure joy,” said Cole.
“One of the things that helps with grief and pain when you’re going through it is to have somebody who will spend the time, to listen to you and let you share without interrupting, and without trying to solve everything,” said Shaul.
The Tornado Shelter has closed at New Bridge Church, since the need after the storm was diminishing.