Building damaged by McGregor tornado.

Most businesses in McGregor’s historic downtown have recovered since a tornado struck the northeast Iowa community in July, and merchants are looking forward to the fall tourism season.

Kristie Austin, executive director of the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce, says visitors typically flock to the region to see the changing colors of the autumn leaves.

“I still get calls in to the chamber office wondering if we’re okay enough to have people come here, and yes, we certainly are,” Austin says. “Our community is so strong, that they came together really quickly to get things cleaned up and ready for service as quickly as possible.” Immediately after the twister hit, Austin says the town was closed off to non-residents and some businesses were closed for up to a week, but that was well over a month ago.

Austin says, “The two business buildings that were severely damaged and were basically lost have been cleaned up and a lot of the other buildings that have had roof or other structural things, they’re getting that fixed.” The tornado destroyed two downtown buildings that housed an antiques shop and a tattoo parlor. The tattoo artist will reopen in a different building, while repairs are ongoing for other businesses and homes. One building that was destroyed was on the National Register of Historic Places.

(Thanks to Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)