On the afternoon of Thursday, July 19, severe thunderstorms developed quickly across central and southern Iowa. A few of these storms produced several tornadoes, the most significant of which impacted Marshalltown, Bondurant, and Pella, Iowa.
The Marshalltown tornado tore through the town causing tremendous damage. It was assessed as an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, a scale from zero to five that rates the intensity of tornadoes based on the damage they cause. Though only minor injuries were reported, the tornado left this community deeply hurting.
Meet the Hartwig Family
The Hartwig family lives on South 14th Avenue in Marshalltown. Allie Hartwig is a local nurse, often working 12-hour shifts. When she got the alerts about the impending tornado, she immediately thought of her three children and their safety. She says it was hard to leave her family when they were in need, but she knew they would have good food to eat thanks to the Red Cross. After the tornado struck, Allie’s family went days without power and relied on meals distributed in the neighborhood daily by American Red Cross emergency response vehicles. Her 11-year-old daughter Addison has enjoyed the meals each day and looks forward to talking with the Red Cross volunteers.
For the past week the family has been cleaning up their yard together with help from neighbors, using tools provided by the Red Cross. Allie’s 13-year-old son Aiden and his friends helped clean up the backyard. Allie says the Red Cross has made a huge difference to the people on her street.
“This was a big deal, and you’re still here,” Allie said. “Thanks for doing what you do.”
Meet Lisa Villegas
Lisa Villegas lives nearby on Summit Street where a large tree in her front yard was blown over by the tornado, barely missing her house. The tornado damaged her truck, broke several windows in her home, tore off part of the roof, ripped off shingles and more. Lisa is thankful the tree didn’t destroy her home, but says she was out in her truck when the tornado hit, which was a terrifying experience.
Lisa Villegas surveys the damage to the tree in her front yard.
“I’ve only seen tornadoes in the movies, and it’s real this time,” Lisa said.
Lisa has lived in Marshalltown for 18 years but this is her first time seeing a tornado. She said she was amazed at how many organizations came in to help and she often sees Red Cross emergency response vehicles on her street. The supplies provided by the Red Cross were exactly what they needed to start cleaning up.
“A Red Cross [volunteer] was the first person I talked to about this,” Lisa said. “You guys are wonderful…we’re all going to be strong and get through this- it might be a while but we will get through it.”
You can learn more about the ongoing tornado response efforts by following our Greater Iowa Region on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, you can download the free American Red Cross Emergency App to set up alerts for your community.