When talking about tornado season in Iowa most people will tell you it’s between May and July, but in northwest Iowa you will likely hear a different story now.
On Friday, October 4, 2013, it was just after 6:30 in the evening when as many as nine tornados touched down across northwest Iowa and northeast Nebraska. The twisters carved their way through the countryside north and south of Sioux City chewing up nearly everything in their paths.
By day break on Saturday morning, Red Cross disaster workers had sprung into action, and as they drove into the rural communities to serve hot coffee and breakfast they discovered their friends and neighbors already hard at work.
The Williams family lost almost everything when the tornado ripped through their farmstead southeast of Bronson on Friday night. The storm took the roof and exterior walls of their home. It destroyed two garages, a barn, a machine shed and more. The devastation was daunting, but by sunrise on Saturday the Williams family was greeted by an army of helpers.
A half mile north, Debbie and Bob Packard not only lost their home, but thought they had lost their 9-week-old puppy, Fred. That’s until 15-year-old Autumn Fluent, who was helping clean up debris in a field, found the little dog, wet and alone, but very much alive.
The stories of neighbors helping neighbors can be heard in all of the storm damaged areas. Linda and Vern Brice are longtime Red Cross disaster workers who live just a few miles away from the devastated farms. Linda and Vern delivered hot meals and handed out boxes over the weekend, so their friends and neighbors could pack what was left of their belongings.
Another team of Red Cross volunteers from Mapleton, a community devastated by a tornado in 2011, also visited homes and farms offering comfort and hot meals, returning the favor for the assistance they received two years ago.