Washington County ready to assist in tornado clean-up, if called

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


As of 8:30 a.m. today, Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Marissa Reissen said she has not received an official request for assistance from areas of the state that were struck by tornadoes on Thursday and plans to only arrange for volunteer first responders to go to the communities if such a request is received.

Reissen said she has contacted first responders in Mahaska County, who are in Pella, to see if assistance is needed and to let them know Washington County can help.

?Right now we are just kind of waiting,? she said.

If requested, she said Washington County could offer manpower. She said if a request comes, she will put out a message to emergency responders. Responders wishing to volunteer can contact Reissen at 653-7794 or on the emergency management Facebook page so she can get the volunteer the information they need.

A flurry of tornadoes formed unexpectedly Thursday afternoon and swept through the central Iowa communities of Marshalltown, Pella and Bondurant. According to news sources, 17 people have been listed as injured but no deaths have been reported.

Officials have also asked that people wishing to simply see the damage stay away from the areas. Reissen stressed that people without training not randomly show up in the towns. She said there would be volunteer check-ins where people can get assignments.

?If you went and were to get injured after self-deploying somewhere and no one knows you are there ... that is not a situation you want to be in,? she said. ?If you want to volunteer make sure you do it the right way.?

Reissen also commented that the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which Washington is currently forming, would be the kind of group that could respond to the areas to offer assistance. She believes CERT from Mahaska and Des Moines counties have already responded.

While there have been no official requests for goods, Reissen said JW Foods in Wellman has contacted her about making food donations to the victims of the tornadoes. At Custom Impressions, co-owner Heather Fedler is turning her sights to the four-legged victims of tornadoes.

?When things like this happen, I think that people who don?t have pets don?t think about people who do have pets,? she said.

Fedler is asking people to bring new supplies for pets, such as cat food, dog food, dog cages, beds, litter and cleaning products. Donations can be left at Custom Impressions at 1110 S. Fifth St.

Fedler said she knows several people in the areas that were hit by the storms and plans to deliver the supplies to veterinarians in Marshalltown. She also hopes to connect with veterinarians in Pella. People with questions should contact Fedler at 461-3604.