At about 5pm on Sunday, May 25th a devastating tornado hit my hometown of Parkersburg, IA. I was visiting some friends nearby in La Crosse, WI where I received a call from my parents that no one had heard from my 91 year old grandmother. We also heard news that a woman that lived 4 houses down from her had been a victim of the storm. After an hour or so, some of our good friends that help care for her gave us word that she was pulled from the the wreckage of her house completely unharmed and that she was safely resting in a Red Cross triage facility. She had the good sense and guidance to take shelter in the shower stall of her basement bathroom during the storm. This room ended up being the most undamaged room in the house and was the safest place she could have possibly been.
A lot of friends have been asking me if there’s anything they can do to help. If you have the means, I’d suggest donating to one or both of these organizations:
1. The Red Cross.
This organization is awesome. I had always heard about the great stuff they do, in the last few days I was able to see it first hand. They cared for my grandma until we could get to her, tracked down a print out of her medications, contacted a local pharmacist to get her a 3 day supply of medication on the night of the storm, and when we rolled into town the next day they were on the scene handing out water and assisting with the cleanup efforts.
2. Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR)
This may not be a well known organization to you, but if you check out their site you’ll quickly find out that when disaster strikes LDR is quickly there. We’re told they’ll be setting up in town tomorrow to aid in the restoration process. I volunteered to help with Katrina relief work in February this year and the LDR presence is felt strongly by the people displaced by that storm. One person I met there said, “if it wasn’t for the volunteers like y’all that keep coming down here, this area would never have been rebuilt.”
Both my grandma’s and uncle’s houses were destroyed by the Tornado. Also, my uncles vehicles and place of work were taken. Driving through town yesterday felt like witnessing the aftermath of a bomb. They are saying that 1/3 of the town has been completely destroyed, including the town’s; grocery store, gas station, lumber yard, high school, and several hundred residences.
The response from friends in the town who’s houses weren’t damaged has been really amazing. They dug in immediately to help us sift through the rubble and recover precious items like photographs and family heirlooms. The governor was in town surveying the damage yesterday and asked the president for federal assistance. Anything you can do to encourage your representatives to support the federal efforts to help the town rebuild would also be appreciated. One phone call might not do much, but (especially in an election year) a few hundred or thousand calls might see some action.
Thanks to everyone who has been supportive to my family and me in the last few days. I’ll be heading back to help cleanup as soon as I pick up my sister from the airport.