Habitat for Humanity sets up permanent office in Marshalltown following last year's tornado

Marshalltown is still recovering after a devastating EF-3 tornado struck the town in July 2018...
Marshalltown is still recovering after a devastating EF-3 tornado struck the town in July 2018 (Chris Earl/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Jul. 15, 2019 at 11:27 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

One year ago this week, a devastating EF3 tornado tore through the heart of Marshalltown.

On Thursday, July 19, 2018, the twister hit the downtown area, destroying many businesses and homes.

In response to the destruction, Habitat for Humanity set up a permanent office in Marshalltown to help with recovery efforts. So far, they have helped to rebuild more than 50 homes.

It takes some serious teamwork to rebuild a home. A collection of crews all working for the same goal: to revitalize this neighborhood.

“Seeing it go from unsafe and damaged siding to now, I mean it needs a bit more work, but it's going to be a nice home,” Joshua Dank, construction manager, said.

Dank works with Habitat for Humanity to figure out what each house needs. He and other volunteers are finishing the siding on one home, which is a drastic improvement from where it started.

"I mean this house had asbestos on it, which is unsafe to even work with,” Dank said.

The interior walls needed new drywall and paint. The front porch also needed some repairs, which Dank said is pretty standard for homes damaged in the area. Through Habitat for Humanity, homes can get up to $20,000 to help with repairs.

"We are working with the homeowner to see what we think are critical repairs needed,” Cassie Nemmers, outreach coordinator for the organization, said.

Fixing just one home can help the city block, causing a chain reaction.

"And once one house is repaired, that can often inspire neighbors to want to get repairs done on their home, and so on and so forth,” Nemmers said.

Habitat for Humanity responded within hours after the tornado hit. At first, they put tarps on windows and cleared debris. Staff then created an action plan, which included working with AmeriCorps and anyone else willing to help rebuild. And through dedicated volunteers, Habitat started repairing nearly 60 homes.

"We have volunteers like the group behind us that come back every two weeks to help as much as they can,” Nemmers said.

Staff estimate it will take months, even years, to fully rebuild the entire city. The biggest challenge they've faced is finding people to do some of their contract work, like plumbing.

People impacted by the storms are still eligible for help. Head to