It was one year ago today that a large tornado hit the small western Iowa town of Mapleton, demolishing about half of the community’s homes and businesses. The twister hit about 7:30 in the evening on April 9th, 2011, what was a Saturday. Mapleton Mayor Roger Krohn says things look a lot different from how they were a year ago.
“The only thing we’re missing, of course, there are a lot of vacant lots that no longer have homes on them but the folks that are rebuilding are rebuilding nice homes,” Mayor Krohn says. “Some have expanded their lots. We’ve planted trees and we have a long-term committee in place that will help foster some long-term recovery.” Mayor Krohn says businesses have done a remarkable job recovering from the storm.
“There’s only one business that I’m aware of that did not return and that was an auto body shop,” he says. “The grain elevator lost, I believe, the last numbers I heard from them, they had 1.78-million-bushel capacity for storage and they’re down to about a third of that now in this community. That will definitely have an economic impact on us.”
Krohn says they got help hauling away trees and debris and what became known as “the pile” is long gone. The National Weather Service says the tornado was three-quarters of a mile wide and the path was about three-and-a-half miles. It was an EF3 with winds of up to 165 miles-an-hour.
Krohn is also a Monona County sheriff’s deputy and he was on patrol that night. He was one of the storm spotters and says with lots of help from the community, they were able to put out a warning well in advance.
“The amount of volunteers that came out to spot, the volunteer firemen, the general public, the awareness, the time we were able to give warning as a team to this community along with some divine intervention is what saved lives here,” he says. “Everything fell into place perfectly.” He believes it was truly a miracle that everyone survived. There were no deaths and only minor injuries. He notes, there were more injuries during the clean-up process than during the actual storm.
By Karla James