Lieutenant governor, after tornado damage tour, says SWCC “lucked out”

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April 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Some of the buildings hit by this weekend’s tornado in Creston are state-owned facilities and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says it appears the Area Education Agency office in Creston may wind up being a total loss. Dormitories for students at Southwestern Community College that opened just a couple of years ago were heavily damaged. The governor and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds toured the college campus Sunday.

“We actually got to talk to (SWCC) president Crittenden yesterday. She was on the ground with gloves in hand, a pair of jeans, picking up debris,” Reynolds says. “Right now they were working with hotels in the area so they would have a place for the students.” Southwestern Community College is closed today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday). A campus building where vocational agricultural classes are taught was damaged. The lieutenant governor says all structures on campus were being checked to ensure there wasn’t additional damage.

“They were assessing the college as a whole,” Reynolds says. “I think they might have lucked out.” While it’s not state owned, the facility which sustained major damage in Creston was the hospital. “The damage that we viewed was really breathtaking,” Reynolds says. “It’s sad when you see the amount of devastation, especially as we toured the hospital — a newly-remodeled wing that was scheduled for a grand opening next week.”

As for other public facilities, the bus barn for Creston schools was hit by the tornado, as was Creston’s Y-M-C-A, which is closed today. “As horrific and as devastating as it was, it is just so inspirational to see the neighbors and the people that come together — it is so Iowa — to help in any way that they can. From the Salvation Army to the Red Cross, I had law enforcement there from Clarke County as well as surrounding areas,” Reynolds says, who is from Osceola, in Clarke County. “There were EMT volunteers from Lenox who said, ‘You know, they were helping us when (two tornadoes) hit us a year ago,’ so people just drop everything and were busy just doing everything that they could to volunteer and help out.” Reynolds was unable to join Governor Branstad in touring damage in the small town of Thurman, where a tornado touched down for 10 miles and left a path a damage that was half-a-mile wide.

(Radio Iowa)