Cyclones clean up after tornado
Iowa State football team applies manpower to recovery effort in Marshalltown
The Iowa State University football team found a new way to garner applause from its fans, and maybe even make some new ones along the way.
The Cyclones’ players, coaches and staff showed up in Marshalltown on Saturday morning to do what they could to help the community rebound from a devastating EF-3 tornado that struck early Thursday evening.
The team unloaded two of its three buses at Rogers Elementary School, which served as a staging area, and sent another bus to Woodbury Elementary upon arrival at 10:30 a.m. The Cyclones donated their time and effort in the Franklin Elementary School district as well, and it was an eye-opening experience for players and coaches alike.
“I don’t have words for it, you know what I mean?” said Colin Newell, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Ames. “You just put yourself in that position for a second and you’re like, ‘wow.’
“We had some guys come up here [Friday] and help out and they said we’ve got to get more guys up here and do what we can to help out. We’ve got a lot of people with us so we can bring a lot of manpower with us and get out here and help these people out.”
The entire Iowa State football roster made the journey from Ames on Saturday morning, making quicker work out of a number of tasks in the Rogers neighborhood before catching a breather on the schoolyard. Groups of players did everything from clearing tree limbs and debris, raking yards, moving remnants of houses, rooftops and garages, and removing furniture from unstable structures.
“Community service is certainly a priority of coach [Matt] Campbell’s and our entire staff and teams, so we look for any way that we can help,” said associate head coach Tyson Veidt. “Obviously when situations like this arise out of nowhere, you’re certainly looking to help as fast as you can and in any way that you can, so we’re here to provide our services and do what we can.
“Sometimes you can’t help but in this instance we’re able to help so I think that’s the thing with us and how we operate, we’re sure willing to help and obviously this time we can.”
One of the group’s first undertakings of the day was to help a family on West Fremont Street move their car out of the drive and a truck out from under a garage that fallen down upon it.
A tearful owner offered hugs to any Cyclone football player to cross her path. Some pledged their fandom to Iowa State, if even for a day. Another homeowner urged players to take the last of their wine and spirits.
“We just started at square one,” said Alex Kleinow, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman from North Liberty. “We ripped apart a garage for a guy, and after that we helped three old ladies move bricks and furniture out of their house. Their house was completely destroyed. They were so grateful, everybody’s just been so grateful to us, it’s honestly been amazing.
“Just doing it for the community makes it all worth it too, just helping out Iowa and Marshalltown get back to where they were at.”
It’s uncertain whether that will happen, or how long it will take. The tornado sliced through the northern portion of Marshalltown and turned residential areas into rubble. Rogers Elemenatary School principal Dr. Mick Jurgensen said the school is planning to offer outreach to families who may have been impacted, giving the kids somebody to talk to and teaching parents how to cope in the wake of the natural disaster.
Dr. Jurgensen contacted Amy Pieper, the Marshall County Director for Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach program, and got the word out to the neighborhoods that the Iowa State football team was coming to do its part.
“Your heart has to go out to the kids that were terrified and the families that were terrified about what happened, but it’s very hard in the middle of all this as people helping to keep yourself regulated and keep positive,” Dr. Jurgensen said, “but that’s the gift that we can give one another and the spirit of can-do and ‘this isn’t going to defeat us,’ and get things cleaned up. The quicker you clean up, the quicker you heal.
“The school will do what it can, like this today. It’s like peeling an onion, you learn what you need to do as you peel it, one layer at a time.”
Both Newell and Kleinow have dealt indirectly with flood damage to their respective hometowns, but nothing the likes of what Marshalltown has to endure following the tornado.
“This is really eye-opening,” said Kleinow. “It’s amazing. We get to leave after we’re done here today but they’ve got to stay here. Thinking about that really humbles you.”