Those who saw the initial tornado damage are astounded by how far the community of Thurman, Iowa has come in less than a week.
The city itself is made up of fewer than 250 people. However, it’s swelled to 2,000 at times, with the help they’ve been receiving since Saturday’s tornado.
Big stores like area Wal-Mart stores have put a huge dent in the damage. “We have places like Home Depot,” said Mayor Rod Umphreys. “They brought water, they brought rakes, they brought chainsaws, wood. And they said, ‘Here, we don’t need it back. Take it, use it.’” In addition to supplies, “They brought people down, cleaning yards.”
To all who’ve contributed to this point, Umphreys said, “Thank you. There’s no way we could have done this. We’re a week and a half, two weeks ahead of schedule because of all the volunteers, their equipment, their gas, their time.”
But the efforts are not done. The city’s hoping a final push Saturday, starting at 9 a.m., will prepare the town for re-building. “We’re going to have everybody sign in at City Hall, and we’re going to go through and we’re going to rake yards and we’re going to finish the debris pickup, and we’re going to clean people’s windows and power wash their houses and all of those things, and lend a hand wherever,” Umphreys said.
James Fox and his daughter came up from Bellevue Wednesday to pitch in. They’re part of an organized effort by Offutt Air Force Base’s 20th Intelligence Squadron. "We thought we would be hit, but we were spared,” he said. “So we thought we'd come and help out the folks who did get hit."
Umphreys said that attitude is helping his community keep their heads up in the face of so much loss. His own mother owned one of seven houses completely destroyed. But, he said, every other home in town has some damage, including his own.
“The outpouring of support has just been incredible,” he said, quick to point out the Red Cross and Salvation Army efforts, too, making sure residents and volunteers are fed and comfortable. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
A "victim's fund" has been established at First Sate Bank in Tabor, to help victims with food, temporary shelter and other necessities.
Designed by Gray Digital Media