DYSART, Iowa (KWWL) – Many residents of eastern Iowa spent part of the day Thursday assessing damage from severe storms Wednesday night.
Between fixing holes in the roofs, picking up downed trees and cleaning up debris, it was a long day of cleaning up for the people of Dysart.
The city was hit by two tornadoes on Wednesday evening. The first was an EF-1 tornado with wind gusts of up to 100 mph. It happened just after 7 p.m. and was on the ground for just over a mile. The damage was mainly on Tilford, Blaine, Park and Crisman streets.
Amy Eikamp’s home was not affected by the storm, but she spent Thursday helping her less fortunate neighbors.
“It’s just part of being a good neighbor,” she said. “We always try to step in and help when someone is in need.”
The tornado ripped off the roof of Tom Brandt’s garage. Pieces ended up in his garden, his neighbor’s house and the street behind his.
“After the wind calmed down and things calmed down, I went out into the garage and looked up and said, ‘Honey, we don’t have a garage'”, Brandt said. “There was a waterfall flowing in our house because the roof was missing above the kitchen.”
The wreckage of Brandt’s house and one of their neighbor’s houses alone filled two dumpsters. Friends and strangers helped him pick up the pieces.
“Dysart is the place to be in times of disaster,” Brandt said. “They don’t run away, they come to you and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
It’s a strange position for Brandt, who is used to playing a different role as a Dysart firefighter. He is normally the one who runs to help others.
“Usually I’m the one with a pager on my hip and answering the call that goes through in the middle of the night,” he said. “It’s good to know that my brothers and sisters from the fire department were there.”
In his time of need, it was not only his fellow firefighters, but his entire community who came running to help.
“Dysart was full this morning,” Brandt said. “Neighboring friends came with food and asked ‘How can we help you?’ It was upsetting because we didn’t know where to direct them. Everyone wanted to help.
As a firefighter, he saw the damage caused by tornadoes with his own eyes. He remembers responding to the Parkersburg tornado and how authorities had to put cardboard or plywood signs to mark the streets, just to say where they were.
As the city of 1300 came together to help neighbors and strangers rebuild their lives, Brandt and his wife are still dealing with the damage. Most of all, they’re just grateful despite all the damage, no one was hurt.
“My wife isn’t taking it as well, but we’re both fine,” he said. “We are standing and breathing. We have family and friends. Everything is fine.”
The community of Oelwein was hit by a tornado shortly after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. The tornado was an EF-0 with winds of up to 70 miles per hour. He was on the ground for three miles.
Several buildings were damaged, including the high school football field. Small structures were lifted and moved, metal fences were knocked down and debris covered the ground.
Thousands of people were left without power overnight due to downed power lines and trees.
The National Weather Service confirmed that two EF-1 tornadoes hit Manchester on Wednesday. The storms had winds between 90 and 110 miles per hour.
One was in the southwest of the city and the other hit the southwest corner of Manchester.
Several buildings were damaged, corn was flattened and tree branches torn off. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
One of the hardest hit areas was near Waverly and Shell Rock. The area was hit by two EF-1 tornadoes with winds of 95 to 105 miles per hour.
The tornado reportedly damaged homes, barns, crops, cars and power lines.
Clean-up efforts were still underway on Thursday. Residents continued to struggle with downed power lines blocking roads.
Several people help community fires to try to get rid of the debris. Most of the damage was unrecoverable.