Little did we know that the severe thunderstorm on the evening of April 14 would spawn an EF2 tornado just west of town. It happened so quickly and was rain-wrapped, giving no one the ability to issue a warning. The effects were minimal, given that the tornado skirted the northwest corner of our community. But for those in its path, the damage was devastating. While we were spared the loss of any precious life, a total of 14 single family homes and 16 multi-family units were severely damaged and two homes in rural Union county destroyed as well. Several outbuildings on farms were destroyed and 40 homes in the area had minor damage. The Greater Regional Medical Center, not only a hospital but also housing all local physicians, took a direct hit and is still not back to inpatient care. The dormitories of Southwestern Community College were also in the path and now sit empty as all the students finish the semester housed in hotels and homes. Creston Community Schools received severe damage, but classes were able to resume the following Wednesday. The YMCA and other local businesses in the path have yet to reopen.
Things looked pretty bleak as darkness fell that Saturday night. But the outpouring of volunteers began immediately. By Sunday morning I was receiving calls from staff of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, asking if our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units were needed in Creston. Not knowing the full scope of need yet, Wes Jones, Director of Missions, Northwest & Southwest Associations, arrived by 1:30 p.m., to make an assessment, meet with officials and then, mobilize the Chainsaw Unit. Three men from Sioux City joined Wes and Crest Baptist Church’s own Jerry Hartman, a DR trained volunteer. These five spent the next three days assisting residents with tree removal, as well as spreading the Good News of Christ. With each completed job, the homeowner received a Bible and a prayer for God’s continued aid.
Additionally, Pastor Mike Carlson and Associate Cal Callison from First Baptist, Winterset, arrived on Tuesday, serving as Disaster Relief Chaplains. They visited local adult care facilities that were also impacted by the storm.
The saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) is so true. But those who were on the receiving end of so many volunteers were tremendously blessed in the midst of adversity. Our community continues to be grateful to the many volunteers, including our own Disaster Relief volunteers, who so quickly and selflessly came to the aid of those in need.