City: Building debris clean-up begins, dumpsters removed

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY First ward councilor Sue Cahill, standing, talks to residents who attended a city-sponsored informational meeting on tornado-clean up and related issues Monday night at Marshalltown Public Library. Since city hall was extensively damaged during the July 19 tornado, city council and other meetings have been held at MPL. A number of city offices also moved into the library.

On Monday night, Marshalltown residents with questions about post-tornado clean-up and recovery could talk with Mayor Joel Greer, city councilors, department heads and city staff while posing questions or concerns.

The setting was the Marshalltown Public Library in a informal setting since a special city council meeting had been previously canceled.

“Mayor Greer decided Friday to cancel the special city council meeting because of a light agenda,” City Administrator Jessica Kinser said to the crowd. “We will hold a regular meeting 5:30 p.m., Aug. 13.”

No formal action could be taken on resident questions or concerns because it was not a council business meeting.

Marshalltown Regional Partnership’s Val Ruff and Small Business Administration’s Burl Kelton were also in attendance.

Construction debris

“Effective immediately, the public is asked to bring all building-related debris to the curb for pick-up,” said the city in a Monday press release. “Crews will be removing debris until every impacted area has been visited.

Residents should separate tree and vegetation material from building material. Only construction material will be picked-up. Do not put appliances or tires on the curb as they will not be picked up. Gervich and Sons, 901 E. Nevada St., is still accepting empty appliances for recycling. Due to debris removal, dumpsters placed by the city in the impacted areas for free drop off are no longer available. Anyone caught dumping in the locations will be charged with illegal dumping.”

Third Ward councilor Mike Gowdy, who is volunteer chairman of the Landfill Commission, said it will continue to waive fees for all city residents bringing in tornado-related debris. The commission is comprised of local elected officials from Marshall County.

First ward and city concerns

First ward councilor Sue Cahill said she was interested in hearing questions and concerns from residents. Since the tornado lifted-off, Cahill said she has received some tough questions.

“Constituents and other residents are concerned about state-funding to local schools, especially if residents move to a different part of the city or move away,” she said. “Many rental properties in the first and second ward were damaged … I have been seeing Facebook posts from residents claiming they are having difficulty finding rental housing. Other residents are concerned we will have to demolish many homes and apartments and that could dramatically shrink our tax base.”

A large section of Cahill’s ward in the northeast quadrant experienced some of the worst destruction.

The second ward, represented by Gabe Isom, also saw extensive damage.

Help for businesses, homeowners and renters

SBA Public Information Officer Kelton of Sacramento, Calif., said the SBA is ready and prepared to help.

In addition to many other services, SBA:

• Offers disaster loans which can be the primary source of money to pay for repair or replacement costs not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.

• Offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, most private not-for-profit organizations, homeowners and renters.

• Offers homeowners and renters an opportunity to borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property.

Kelton said he has personally visited with six businesses impacted by the tornado and recently made a presentation to another 100 recently.

He can be reached at 916-200-6426.

“I urge residents to take advantage of these programs,” he said. “People fund these programs with their taxes, and now is the time to take advantage. An application must be submitted by Sept. 29.”

Mixed emotions

Resident and businesswoman Leigh Bauder said she had been ecstatic and also moved to tears by the generosity shown by local employers JBS, Lennox International, Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls, Karl Chevrolet of Des Moines and others.

More than $1.7 million dollars has been pledged in tornado recovery to date.

“I have also been moved by the generosity of strangers coming in and locals helping,” she said. “For example, the American Red Cross, First Presbyterian Church, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, Samaritans Purse and many, many, more. A woman I know who manages a Sam’s Club donated a whole semi of bottled water. We found a driver and brought it into town.”

Bauder said she and Beverly Free Perkins, former Marshalltown resident, now living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, will be writing a book about the July 19 EF-3 tornado and town’s recovery.

“I am so proud of Marshalltown,” Bauder said.

The next regular city council meeting is 5:30 p.m., Aug. 13 at the Marshalltown Public Library, 105 W. Boone St. For more information, telephone 641-754-5701 or visit the city’s website, marshalltown-ia.gov, for complete agenda packet and to subscribe to agenda notices and department news.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com