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Riverview RVs tipped, camper trapped in storm

Largest city park sustains 50% tree loss

T-R PHOTOS BY THOMAS NELSON — John Benjamin’s camper, held a by a fallen tree at Riverview Park. He’s a visitor to Marshalltown and was traveling with his dog Molly.

Marshalltown’s Riverview Park was hit particularly hard with trailers tipped over and more than half of its trees down everywhere.

Fallen tree limbs surrounded several campers. Luckily, there no reported injuries in the area but at least one man ended up stuck shortly after the storm when a tree fell on his camper.

John Benjamin and his dog Molly were trapped in the middle of the derecho Monday morning.

“I thought we were going to flip over,” Benjamin said. “It slammed me against a wall. It was pretty relentless after that.”

When he first became aware of the storm he checked his windows and started preparing for it the best he could.

Benjamin thinks a fallen tree kept his camper from flipping over.

He is in town from East Moline, Ill. and runs a YouTube channel called “Geezer at the Wheel.”

“We travel all over the country. We’ve been everywhere,” Benjamin said. “Then we came to Marshalltown.”

After being stuck in his camper for a half hour, Benjamin opened his driver side window and removed the stick that was blocking him from getting out.

“As the storm was going on I grabbed my dog Molly and we went to the floor,” he said.

They laid under a table until the storm subsided.

“We weathered it out on the floor,” Benjamin said.

For now, he will remain in Marshalltown. His generator won’t last too much longer and his only mode of transportation is his RV which is trapped under a tree.

“I’m running out of water,” Benjamin said. “I hadn’t planned on using the generator. It’s not going to be long before I’m not going to have lights and the refrigerator won’t work.”

Aside from being stuck, his camper only received minor damage, including a broken rooftop window.

The entrance to Riverview Park has extensive storm damage. The rest of the park is littered with debris.

Overall, Riverview Park’s campgrounds are almost abandoned. Several campers are still there, but few people are staying.

Benjamin’s spirits are still high and he can laugh when he talks about the damage.

“I’m not the only one in this situation,” he said.

Riverview is Marshalltown’s largest park and nearly 50 percent of its trees are downed, said Geoff Hubbard, Marshalltown Parks and Rec director.

Most of Marshalltown’s city parks only had trees damaged, while their structures and playgrounds have come out unscathed. Most of the city park shelters are still standing.

“Every park I’ve been to has at least one downed tree in it, if not more,” he said.

Hubbard said he is still checking on parks around Marshalltown and observing the damage. The city can’t pull the trees off of Benjamin’s camper without some liability, he said.

There is more damage to parks from the derecho than the 2018 tornado.

“We had a few parks that got hit by the tornado, but now every parks been hit,” Hubbard said.

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