Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Night The Lights Went Out In Creston

The night the lights went out in Creston, Iowa -one year ago this evening - will always be one of those "Where were you and what were you doing?" memories for me. It was the night an F-2 tornado struck on the northwest side of town - two miles directly north of us.
Probably the scariest part before getting electricity back on and seeing on the news what was going on was hearing all the sirens and seeing all the flashing emergency vehicle lights over around the hospital. We didn't know the hospital had been hit. I assumed the ambulances were bringing casualties TO the hospital. Then we learned they were evacuating people FROM the hospital.
What do you do when your local hospital is out of commission? That night a triage staff worked out of a tent outside the hospital. An open house to display the hospital's recent renovations was scheduled for the end of April. Instead another program of rebuilding and refurbishing began.

So many buildings were damaged. The AEA building was almost completely destroyed. The lot it was on was cleared and is where the school district is going to build their new bus barn. The old bus barn was also destroyed in the tornado.

The Y building - which is one we are very familiar with - going there every morning - looked to be hardly damaged at all. Yet it was the one that was closed the longest. It didn't re-open until September.

The dorms at Southwestern Community College were also heavily damaged. The one pictured had just been built the year before. Luckily the students in the dorms were all okay and the structures were repaired in time for fall classes.

It was also some time before I learned that a former co-worker's condo was one of the ones heavily damaged in the tornado. These condos were directly east of the hospital emergency entrance seen in the first photo. I think her unit was the one at the very far right of this picture, just behind the red car. She did not get back into her condo until this spring.
Some apartment buildings were rebuilt to what they had been. Some formerly two-story units were rebuilt as single-story apartments and yet others were not rebuilt at all.
A year later there are still a lot of scars if you look closely, but mostly it is hard to tell what happened the night the lights went out in Creston. We can all remember where we were and what we were doing, though!

(If you're interested, you can see the blog I wrote about the tornado a year ago, here.)

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