Rebuilding is underway at the western Iowa Boy Scout camp where a tornado strike last month killed four scouts and injured four-dozen, while demolishing virtually all of the camp’s structures. Lloyd Roitstein, executive director of the Boy Scouts’ Mid-America Council, says one primary objective is to make sure the Little Sioux Scout Ranch is safe — not only for future scouts but from current gawkers.
"The biggest challenge, of course, is getting the trees down. We have security around the clock because it’s dangerous," Roitstein says. "The entire public wants to go there and walk around camp and we can’t let anybody in because of the trees so we’re trying to figure out the way to get thousands of trees down."
Many of the dead and injured were crushed by a large stone fireplace and chimney that toppled during the twister. The camp was designed for scout wilderness training and had no emergency shelters. Roitstein says there are 1,800 acres of property and 30 miles of trails, so even 100 bunkers wouldn’t provide cover for everyone, everywhere:
He says, "As we rebuild every one of these structures, from shower buildings to the ranger’s home to the shelters, they’ll all hopefully have basements and be built out of the right type of material so some people can get out of the weather and be safer."
The boys were praised for keeping cool heads and pulling others from the rubble of camp buildings and using their first aid skills to keep each other alive until rescue crews arrived. Roitstein says as the rebuilding process gets underway, there will be permanent reminders of those who died and the bravery of the survivors.
"We have committees looking at rebuilding the ranger’s home and we hope to break ground for that in the next month," he says. "We are building a flag plaza as you enter the camp that was donated to us. The north structure where the scouts were that was destroyed, there is a group of people looking over how to rebuild that to make that a memorial."
Roitstein says they hope to make the camp bigger and better than before. It’s still unclear when the facility will re-open.