Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Rice County still needs volunteers to help with storm clean-up October 17, 2018

Several days ago I photographed this home destroyed September 20 by an EF-2 tornado in Morristown. This small town was the hardest hit in a massive storm system that spawned 16 tornadoes and straight line winds in southern Minnesota. An EF-2 has wind speeds of 120 – 130 mph.

 

FOUR WEEKS AFTER MULTIPLE TORNADOES and severe storms ravaged Rice County, folks in my area still need assistance.

 

In the same Morristown neighborhood.

 

So, for the third time, Rice County Emergency Management is coordinating volunteer clean-up efforts. We need your help. This Saturday, October 20, exactly a month after those storms.

 

More damage in the same block in Morristown.

 

Although I’ve not joined these organized efforts, I assisted a friend after three trees fell in her yard, one landing on her house. Randy and I also checked on and helped an elderly neighbor. And then we got around to removing two limbs from our yard, with the help of a friend and his chainsaw.

 

More tornado damage in Morristown.

 

Do you see a word repeating in this post? That would be help. After a devastating storm like this, help is essential.

 

In a nearby neighborhood in Morristown, roof damage.

 

If you can help, register beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday for a two or four-hour shift at volunteer headquarters, the 4-H building at the Rice County Fairgrounds on the north side of Faribault. It seems fitting that the 4-H building serves as the coordination center. Part of the 4-H motto includes pledging hands to larger service.

 

Twisted trees, the telltale signs of a tornado, these near the water tower in Morristown.

 

Lots of hands are needed to remove trees and brush, pick up debris from farm fields and more.

 

This damaged Camaro is parked in the Morristown neighborhood hard hit by a September 20 tornado.

 

We’re only an hour from Minneapolis along Interstate 35. We’d welcome you from the metro to help us, your neighbors to the south. We’d welcome you from Iowa to help your neighbors to the north. We’d welcome anyone with the ability to help.

 

In the countryside near Morristown.

 

As I’ve been out and about the county during the weeks since the storms, I’ve noted the destruction and all of the work yet to be done. It’s heartbreaking really to see homes destroyed, farm buildings demolished, chunks of metal strewn across fields, and endless uprooted and damaged trees (including in my neighborhood).

Help is definitely needed. But so is the hope that help brings.

I have friends waiting for claims adjusters, contractor estimates and insurance payments. They’re waiting for contractors to replace roofs, siding, rafters, a garage door, fences… It’s stressful and, sometimes, overwhelming. They, and so many others, need to know someone, anyone, cares. And care comes in two ways, via help and hope.

FYI: Click here to read more detailed information about this Saturday’s volunteer clean-up efforts.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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8 Responses to “Rice County still needs volunteers to help with storm clean-up”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    The same can be said for Hurricanes Florence and Matthew who have wreaked their devastation across the south. Mexico Beach is one of our favorite beaches and to see the destruction breaks my heart. It takes everyone’s efforts to pitch in and help after natural disasters like the tornadoes you experienced as well. Praying that a good turnout helps put some of this behind the folks who have been affected.

  2. Bella Says:

    I noted in three photos each home had a flag posted. Do you find that quite common in your neighborhood? I note in the cities more common to post flags on just national holidays . And yes a lot of help is need to get people back on track after the tornado. Are churches getting involved? .

    • I noticed all the flags, too. I don’t know for certain the answer to your question. But I do see quite a number of people in my community flying the flag year-round. My next-door neighbor, a veteran, does.

      My church has been organizing to help people within the congregation who need assistance with storm clean-up. There’s also a lot of neighbor helping neighbor, family helping family happening. Students have also helped.

      We would love to see a church group from the metro come down and help with storm clean-up. I remember when my second daughter helped with clean-up after Hurricane Katrina. Not just once, but twice.

  3. Those poor trees look so mangled and others with beautiful orange leaves. Mother Nature and her powers of destruction and beauty all in the same post


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