Mississippi mayor visits Marshalltown to offer disaster advice

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (KCRG) - A Mississippi mayor flew to Iowa Thursday to offer some words of advice following last summer's tornado in Marshalltown.

An EF-3 tornado tore through Marshalltown, destroying or damaging hundreds of homes and businesses July 19. It didn't kill anyone, but it injured more than 20 people. For the last seven months, the community has been working to recover.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton came to Marshalltown to share his experience with Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer. Tupelo also got hit with an EF3 tornado in 2014.

"We're going to see the light at the end of the tunnel and with luck it won't be a train," said Greer. "The town will be in better shape in a few years."

Shelton said after a tornado damaged about 200 homes and more than 20 businesses in Mississippi, he knows the road to recovery isn't an easy one.

"It's easy to get frustrated because the recovery takes time," said Shelton. "The tornado sweeps in and out and leaves a trail of devastation. The recovery unfortunately takes years. That's just something you have to realize that we're all in it together."

Part of the restoration effort includes the county courthouse, which is expected to be better than ever next Fall

"I'm pretty excited," said Greer. "Sorry everybody else around here in the counties but it's the prettiest courthouse in Iowa. It just looks hurt right now, and it's going to be really cool when it's back."

Greer said, for the one-year anniversary of the tornado, they'll have an arts festival downtown right next to the courthouse.

"I know there will be a lot of artists coming in," said Greer. "A lot of people that are excited to celebrate the one year anniversary of surviving a tornado without any deaths."

Both agree, in order to better the town they have keep their spirits up.

"That community spirit that makes our city and also here in Marshalltown so special," said Shelton. "We're able to do that and recover."

The two city leaders met through LeadersLink. It's a non-profit program that connects elected officials with experience in similar situations.