Busses full of volunteers from the communities of Aplington and Parkersburg in northeast Iowa will be making their way to the western Iowa town of Mapleton today. More than 140 homes and businesses in Mapleton were damaged or destroyed by an EF-3 tornado Saturday night.
Aplington-Parkersburg Schools Superintendent Jon Thompson says residents of Parkersburg will never forget how they were aided by fellow Iowans in May of 2008. “We remember the many good deeds and the kindness of Iowa when we had our tornado experience,” Thompson said. “It’s about repaying, but we also understand the amount of work Mapleton residents have in front of them. They just need the help.”
The EF-5 tornado that hit Parkersburg leveled a good portion of the town and killed eight people. The tornado that ripped through Mapleton displaced around 600 people, but there were no fatalities and only 14 minor injuries. Thompson says he’s received a lot of questions about a community effort to help those in Mapleton.
“We had phone calls from the public wondering if they could join us or if the school was going to do anything. We had scores of school personnel and kids who thought it would be a good idea as well,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to say who came up with the idea first because it was on the minds of everyone in Aplington and especially Parkersburg.”
Students must have permission slips signed by parents in order to make the trip. Thompson estimates around 100 kids and adults from Aplington and Parkersburg will help with the clean up efforts in Mapleton. At least nine tornadoes touched down in Iowa Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service.
The heaviest damage was in Mapleton in Monona County, but homes, businesses and farm buildings were also damaged in nearby Sac, Pocahontas, Buena Vista and Kossuth Counties.
By Lance Renaud, KFJB, Marshalltown