We will recover if we are MARSHALLTOWN STRONG

July 19, 2018 will be a day for Marshalltown history books. On that day, an EF-3 tornado destroyed some of the most important parts of our town: homes, local businesses, large employers and city buildings.

The city will never be the same. The beautiful drive down Main Street is forever changed. Buildings that told the tales of our city are gone or extremely altered. Some residents only have memories left of their homes. By some miracle, it didn’t take any lives. Nonetheless, the devastation is making many people’s lives so much harder with some of our neighbors having nothing left.

It took only minutes of destruction for July 19 to become a historic marker. As a community, we cannot erase that day — those minutes — from our past. But we do get to determine our future. As a community, we get to decide how we respond to this large challenge we are faced with.

We get to resolve if the history book shows that Marshalltown went downhill after this disaster or if we rose to the occasion to make our town even better than it was before. We have that choice to make together.

And if our continued efforts are anything like the ongoing response, we may be just fine.

THE RESPONSE

Immediately after the tornado, we saw the best thing we could have seen: people helping people. Everyone from family members, friends and complete strangers sprung into action to help out. That’s what it means to be Marshalltown Strong.

Our first responders have been amazing. Let’s not forget that our city’s public safety and medical facilities were very much affected by the storm. Nonetheless, they stepped up to help immediately and are continuing to aid anyone in need. They are doing their regular work in addition to helping recovery efforts.

We’ve seen people from all over coming to help out our town, some because they know someone affected and some just because they want to help. We’ve seen countless donations of time, money or supplies.

Some of Marshalltown’s largest employers have been stepping up in this difficult time, even when they’ve been hit the hardest. We wrote last Sunday in support of Lennox rebuilding. They announced they would the next day. The destruction they faced didn’t seem imaginable, but it happened. They could have chosen to say it was a lost cause. Instead, they are investing in our community and in our people.

JBS got into action at lightning speed, while at the same time making donations to the community. This resiliency is exemplar.

Emerson, who wasn’t impacted by the storm, is donating $200,000 to relief efforts. That’s the kind of care we need to exhibit in this community. We help our neighbors because we know they would help us.

There are too many wonderful people and organizations that have responded in some positive way to mention them all here. On behalf of the Times-Republican, thank you for helping our community.

IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

This response is so impactful and is certainly a great start to recovery efforts. Many times, people want to help with natural disasters immediately. The help now is great, but we must do everything we can to keep the momentum going. The recovery efforts are not just a few days or even a few months. It’s not as simple as picking up debris. Full recovery will take years and we will need to keep people passionate about this for that long.

As a community, we will need to find sustainable ways to make recovery from this disaster part of our everyday lives. Ongoing initiatives to better our city will now need to include these efforts. We should look to other Iowa communities — like Parkersburg and Cedar Rapids — that have made it out of natural disasters for best practices for rebuilding. Most importantly, we must be patient. These relief efforts will not happen overnight, so we must remember to celebrate small accomplishments along the way and continue to work toward the future we want.

THOSE HIT THE HARDEST

There was so much that was damaged and lost in the tornado, but it’s especially important that we remember those hit the hardest. This includes families who were already facing economic challenges, the uninsured and small businesses that already struggled to make ends meet.

Imagine your home or your livelihood completely destroyed. Imagine having to figure out what you do next. That’s the reality for so many and we cannot let them struggle.

It would be easy for those who aren’t affected to turn a blind eye to these people, but we cannot do that. These are our neighbors. When they are stronger, our community thrives. We must focus on these people and find ways to help with what they need.

Our thoughts are with all of you who have lost anything, especially those of you who have lost everything. But while thoughts may bring some emotional security, our community needs more than that. We need solutions from all kinds of people across all kinds of sectors. That’s how we will help those hit the hardest.

DONATE

Give what you can to this effort. Whether it is money, supplies or time, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Find some way, big or small, to help.

The Red Cross, the Salvation Army and United Way are great organizations to donate to or get involved with.

Here are some of the best local organizations to donate your money.

• Mid-Iowa Community Action

Mid-Iowa Community Action has set up a fund where people can make donations to aid families affected by the tornado. People can donate at www.micaonline.org, where the pop up will direct you to the methods of donation. All funds MICA receives will be used to directly assist families in Marshalltown who have been affected for uninsured losses. This money will directly help those impacted the worst.

• Marshalltown Central Business District

The Marshalltown Central Business District is collecting donations for the recovery of buildings, businesses and homes in the downtown district. Fund allocation will be decided once things settle down and the need is assessed, the MCBD said in a release.

The MCBD said they would put your funding toward recovery and repair efforts and not toward programs of MCBD. Checks can be made out to Marshalltown Main Street Partnership and delivered to the Main Street Office, and put Downtown District Tornado Recovery in the memo.

Contact MCBD director Jenny Etter, director@marshalltownmainstreet.org, or MCBD board president Nate McCormick, Nathan.McCormick@emerson.com, with questions. Online donation link: https://donorbox.org/recovery-support-for-downtown-business-district.

• Community Foundation of Marshalltown

The Community Foundation of Marshall County established a Rebuild Marshalltown Fund.

The Marshall County Community Foundation is dedicated to helping people help their community. During this trying time, we have seen the power of this mission in action as our community has come together to help our neighbors in need, said Community Foundation Executive Director, Dylan Does. While this outpouring of support is humbling, we know the needs of the community will be substantial and ongoing.

Gifts to the Rebuild Marshalltown Fund will be used for the significant rebuilding that lies ahead. Our community will desperately need support to regain the tragic losses we’ve incurred and thanks to gifts to this fund, support will be here to make investments where it is most needed.

Donations can be made at www.desmoinesfoundation.org/rebuildmarshalltown or checks can be mailed to: The Community Foundation of Marshall County, 11 N. First Ave., Marshalltown, IA 50158. For more information contact Dylan Does, Community Foundation of Marshall County Director, at cfmarshallco@gmail.com or www.cfmarshallco.org.

OUR COMMITMENT

TO COVERAGE

The staff at the Times-Republican deeply cares about Marshalltown’s recovery. We care about recovery because we’ve always cared about this community. Now isn’t any different. There are many news organizations across the state and nation that have covered this tornado. They’ve made people far beyond our community aware of what’s happening here, which is so important. But they will not cover this recovery every step of the way. We will.

We are in this with you. The tornado shook our building and broke our hearts because this is our city, too. Serving this community is our livelihood. We have been reporting on stories to deliver the hardest news there is to hear about the tragedies of this situation and stories that help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We can only hope these stories are having as much of an impact on you as they have had on us telling them. We have been inundated with stories to tell and pertinent information to share. It has been impossible for us to keep up with every single thing, but you can bet that we’ll keep at it. We’re in this fight with you and together we are Marshalltown Strong.