We will recover if we are Marshalltown Strong

Editor’s note: A version of this Our View originally ran on July 29, 2018. Its message was as true today as it was then. Together we can rebuild.

July 19, 2018 will be a day for the 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.


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. Lennox announced its commitment to rebuilding. 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.

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.


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.


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.


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 Salvation Army, the House of Compassion, the Caring Center, Goodwill and various churches are great ways to get involved with volunteering and making supply donations.

Here are the best local organizations to donate your money:

• Rebuild Marshalltown — focused on long-term recovery. By mail or drop off: 11 N. First Ave., Marshalltown, Iowa, 50158. Online: www.desmoinesfoundation. org/rebuildmarshalltown

• Long-Term Family Recovery — focused on individual and family needs. By mail or drop off: 1001 S. 18th Ave., Marshalltown, Iowa, 50158. Online: https://www.micaonline.org/

• Marshalltown Central Business District — focused on the recovery of buildings, businesses and homes in the downtown district. Online donation link: https://donorbox.org/recovery-support-for-downtown-business-district.


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.


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