Communities jump into action following tornadoes

April 29, 2024

A grain silo was demolished in an April 26 tornado a fe

Faith communities are pitching in where they can after a powerful storm system spawned 17 tornadoes that swept across Iowa on Friday, April 26, killing one man and causing catastrophic damage across the state.

In the Des Moines Diocese, tornadoes swept through several counties including Pottawattamie, Shelby, Union, Ringgold, Clarke, and Polk, according to the National Weather Service.

Nicholas Ring, of western Iowa, died Saturday from injuries sustained from the tornado.

The rural town of Minden and homes in the countryside suffered catastrophic damage. Damage was also sustained near Creston, Osceola, Tingley at the southern border, and in Pleasant Hill.   


A support beam for a garage was tripped off at the foundation

A support beam for a garage was that ripped off at the foundation

Immediately after the tornado that hit Minden left, parishioners at St. Patrick Parish in Neola started calling friends, family and parishioners, especially the elderly. Those who could not be reached by phone were visited by someone from the parish checking in on them, said Shannon Nye, the parish’s director of religious education.

A house west of Harlan was destroyed by a tornado

A house west of Harlan that was destroyed by the tornado

Parishioners opened their homes, even if they didn’t have electricity, to the tornado victims so anyone who had a spare bed could offer a safe place to sleep, said parish council chair Matt Brummett. And they collected blankets and pillows, bringing them to the Neola Area Community Center.

The next day, parishioners prepared a meal and served it at the gathering center for all the workers who rushed in to help.

Debris from demolished buildings west of Harlan

Debris from demolished buildings west of Harlan

“This community is amazing,” said Nye. “Neola, Minden, Underwood, they branched together, like in the sermon today (in which Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”). Branches take care of each other. This is the best place to be for that.”

“As a parish family, there was this massive support, this massive love that went out,” said Father Julius Itamid.

Originally from Nigeria, he had never seen destruction from a tornado until Friday night. He went to Minden, which was closed to all but residents and first responders, and was let in because he was wearing his priestly collar. He wanted to see his parishioners.

Barn is completely gone after tornado

A barn is completely gone after tornado passes through western Iowa

“It was heartbreaking,” he said. He struggled to find the words describe what he saw: “Very, very saddening. Very, very… words cannot really… “

He found one parishioner’s home completely gone, another with home damage and the garage completely gone. Others had windows blown out.

“It was just awful. Never in my life have I seen that,” said Father Itamid. Yet he saw his parish family come together.

“We will meet this as a parish family to see what more we can offer,” he said.

Farmers consider how to turn over a flipped grain bin

Farmers consider how to turn over a flipped grain bin

Nye concurred.

“It’s not a parish, it’s a family. Father Julius loves this place, too. He really fits in well. He went out there and did a blessing. He checked on our parishioners. He walked all around Minden trying to help,” Nye said.

Just two days later, on Sunday, Bishop William Joensen was at St. Patrick Parish to celebrate confirmation. He invited the parish to let him and the Diocese know if there was anything they could do to help.

Nye asked parishes of the Diocese to pray for those affected by the tornados.

Donations for tornado victims stored in Neola

Donations for tornado victims currently being stored in Neola