Governor Chet Culver and Iowa’s two Senators toured the devastation left behind by the tornadoes that killed six people in northeast Iowa Sunday. Four people were killed in Parkersburg and two in New Hartford, the hometown of Senator Chuck Grassley.
"There’s so much hurt here, I don’t really know where to start," Grassley said. Speaking with the media, Grassley says the residents of Butler County will rebound. Grassley says they will get through it as the people of Butler County and Parkersburg are resilient and right now they have to do what they can to help people that were hurt.
Iowa Governor Chet Culver says 70 people were injured and four of those people remain in critical condition. Culver says some 222 homes and 21 business were wiped away by the tornado. Culver says: "You really are overwhelmed when you see it, you can’t imagine this kind of devastation, the extent of the damage. Homes completely gone. And to see the people trying to sort through their belongings is very difficult to see."
Butler County Sheriff Jason Johnson has been working since the storm hit to find and help residents. Johnson says half the homes in Parkersburg received "catastrophic" damage. "Either they’re leveled, completely gone, or won’t be livable for quite some time," Johnson says. The community was shut down last night and re-opened this morning, but Johnson is asking people to not attempt to come and look at the damage.
"If you don’t own property in this down and you don’t absolutely have to be here to help somebody, if they could just stay out for a few days while residents could get everything taken care of, assess the damage, salvage what they can, and get to work on rebuilding, we appreciate that," Johnson says. Johnson asks that everyone keep them in mind in the next couple of weeks, as he says they will eventually need some help and volunteers.
Governor Culver has declared Butler and Bremer counties state disaster areas, and is asking for an expedited federal disaster request. Senator Grassley says he will support that request. Grassley says those in the Iowa congressional delegation will back up the request to be sure the money is there. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, who represents the area, also toured the damage today. Sheriff Johnson says he believes they have found anyone who may’ve been in one of the damaged buildings.