ROCK BRANCH, Iowa (AP) — A retired high school teacher in northwest Iowa said he was amazed by the outpouring of community support after a tornado severely damaged his home.
On Sunday, two buses carried about 50 students, staff members and parents from Hinton High School to the rural Rock Branch home of Wayne Stadler and his wife, Debbie. Staff members at the school used social media to reach out to the community about helping.
The Stadlers' home was raked by one of the nine tornadoes that struck northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa on Friday, injuring at least 15 people. The roof of the Stadlers' home was torn off, and the barn and several sheds were destroyed.
The couple, who were in a basement crawl space during the tornado, weren't injured.
Steady rain and wind didn't deter the group from cleaning up debris and keepsakes that had been blown into surrounding cornfields, and hauling away toppled trees.
Wayne Stadler taught at the high school for 32 years and retired in 2008.
He said the damage was almost overwhelming, but the hard work by his friends and former students gave him a good start on the cleanup.
“To turn around and come back today and have all of these volunteers show up to clean up outdoors, it's amazing,” he said. “A person always likes to be on the giving end, but when you need it, the receiving is pretty important.”
Some of the young volunteers are on the school's football and volleyball teams.
“Having us come here is not really a surprise, because we're all pretty close and we're all happy to come help (Stadler),” said Tori Bishop, 18, a senior. “It's definitely something that we love to do, because he is a part of our Blackhawk community.”
The Stadlers, who are staying with neighbors, are not sure if they will keep the damaged property.
“Honestly, we're still kind of in the air as far as what we're going to do, as far as where we're going to go from here, as far as our permanent situation,” he said. “When you lose it totally, you're just not sure.”
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