McGregor reflects on progress one year after tornado

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McGregor, IA (WXOW) –
July 19, 2017 is a date that will go down in history for McGregor, Iowa. It is a day that the 842 residents will likely remember for the rest of their lives.

Trees littered the streets and nineteenth century buildings stood damaged and destroyed. The aftermath of an EF-1 tornado in McGregor is burned into the minds of many in the community.

“I walked upstairs and it was very bright and well lit which was unusual, because it was a pretty dark building. There was no back wall. The entire wall 25′ wide and 15′ high had been blown out,” said Larry Brummel.

Brummel owns the drug store building downtown McGregor. Operating since 1872, it is the oldest pharmacy in the state of Iowa located in its original location.

“It was real important for me personally and the pharmacy staff to get things going again,” Brummel said.

One year later, the business welcomes customers from near and far.

“People around town helped. They cleaned, they picked up bricks–whatever they could do they did,” he said.

It is the community support that continues to move McGregor forward.

“I think when those things happen, communities naturally come together,” said Duane Boelman, Deputy City Clerk for the City of McGregor. “You don’t have to be best friends. You don’t even have to agree on a lot of things, but, when we need each other we’re there.”

Instead of focusing on what they have lost, City of McGregor residents plan to remember the storm while also moving forward.

“We’ve got a conceptual design for a new community center which would be built where one of the buildings was, the one next to the library that was destroyed,” Boelman said. “The owners of the building generously donated the land to the city.”

The new community center will include a mural of the building lost in the storm.

“We’ve got good things going on right now, and I think it’s generally a really positive attitude,” Boelman said.

The one year anniversary serves as a time to reflect while the Iowa community continues to push ahead together.

“It was a trying time, but we’re stronger for it,” Brummel said.

Boelman says the Native Fund of Iowa provided grant money for a conceptual design of the community center. He hopes to see a capital campaign start raising money for the project in the near future.

Grant funding also allowed the community to replant more than 60 trees in the last two months.

McGregor residents came together last Sunday for a community potluck, and the focus was not the storm. Instead, it was meant to have the community enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the city spirit.

by WXOW (2018, July 17)

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Kyrie Wagner