Less than two weeks ago, an EF-1 tornado ripped through one small Iowa community. That tornado devastated Main Street, the heart of the business district in McGregor. In the face of loss, local businesses are coming back stronger than ever.
Few signs remain of the tornado that hit McGregor on July 19. More than 23 businesses sustained damage, and 2 businesses were completely lost.
"The town has really, really gotten cleaned up," said Lynette Sander, City Administrator of McGregor.
The community banded together to repair and rebuild the business district.
"There were so many companies and volunteers that had come in to help clean up," Sander said.
"First there was two people," said Bart Knight, Owner of Pocket City Pub. "Pretty soon there was three then four, five, and that was all up and down the street."
The tornado hit in the midst of tourist season in McGregor. Summer tourism brings large amounts of revenue into the city.
"Our business district is actually our economy," Sander said. "We're a tourist-based economy."
"Summertime you've got the river, and you get groups of people," Knight said. "Especially at the bar. You'll get them off pontoons. Then, they'll hit here, and they'll head up the street."
The tornado happened on a Wednesday, and by Saturday, the 'City of McGregor, IA ' Facebook page announced a list of businesses open. That post ended with #McGregorStrong.
"People are going to fight to come back, and we will. It's just that kind of community," Sander said. "Everybody rallies together and works together and gets it done."
"The town really came together, and I think that helps every community," Knight said.
It is the beginning of a new era for the businesses and the entire community.
"I believe everything will have an opportunity out of it, and I believe we will come back," Sander said.
"McGregor will survive," Knight said.
The overarching message: McGregor is open and ready for business. City leaders continue to work with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to preserve historic aspects of the downtown buildings. Going forward, clean up includes picking up debris and down branches as well as repairing roofs and replacing shingles.
More than $10,000 has been donated to a tornado relief fund set up for those impacted. If you want to donate financially to those in McGregor, learn more here.