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Garwin looks at 3-5 day recovery

Community pulls together after storm

July 11, 2011
By ABIGAIL PELZER - Managing Editor ( , Times-Republican

GARWIN - Inside the social center of the St. Boniface Catholic Church, a community space still lacking air conditioning and lighting, the community of Garwin came together Monday night.

Over a meal of burgers, beans, potato chips and water provided by the Red Cross, they examined what had happened that morning.

Eventually spilling out into the yard of the church and into Fourth Street where an emergency town meeting was held, they were told of straight line winds exceeding 100 mph that had moved through Tama County.

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"The challenge is that the damaged area is so extensive that repairs may take five days," said Kip Ladage, Bremer County Emergency Management, who is heading up efforts of mutual aid for Tama County.

Ladage later said work to restore electricity and gas may occur sooner, roughly three days, because of utility assistance coming from around the Midwest.

Gov. Terry Branstad authorized a state disaster proclamation for Tama County Monday afternoon, which means state-owned generators and Iowa Department of Transportation trucks, among other resources will be available to the town on roughly 560 people.

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The community of Garwin gathered Monday evening for an emergency town meeting outside of St. Boniface Catholic Church. The town is looking at a three to five day recovery effort to restore gas and power.

Garwin Mayor Greg Oaks said the town had already come a long way.

"We've made a big effort today," he said. "We've started on a big process and as we get some regulations in place for clean up we hope to be in a be looking better in a couple of days."

Kim Laffoon said the community was joining together in the effort.

"It's great to be in a little town that bands together," she said. "Everyone is checking on everyone and helping out - it makes you proud to live in this town. "

Josh and Kim Meyer sat in folding chairs outside St. Boniface while their 2-year-old son, Jonah, played nearby.

"There's has been a lot of neighbors helping neighbors," Kim Meyer said. "It's a community effort for sure."

The Meyer's home had exterior damage to the roof and patio as well as downed trees.

The social center at the church was expected to be air conditioned by Monday evening for respite and several other locations including the Memorial Building in Gladbrook and the former maurice's store at Marshall Town Center were available for those seeking overnight shelter.

Residents who had worked throughout the day to begin cleanup were asked to sort debris by three categories: Trees and brush, shingles and housing materials and metals.

The severe storm flattened grain bins, ripped the roof off of the post office and caused the temporary evacuation of the residents because of a several gas leaks Monday.

Garwin resident Tom Waite said the clean-up effort was encouraging.

"We shall survive," he said.



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