Vinton begins cleanup expected to take months - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Vinton begins cleanup expected to take months

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VINTON (KWWL) -

Tuesday Governor Terry Branstad declared an emergency proclamation for Benton County, after storms with sustained winds of more than 110 miles an hour ripped through Monday Morning.

The proclamation clears the way for state resources to help clean up storm debris littering the county.

Many living in the quiet community of Vinton couldn't believe what they were seeing and hearing Tuesday. 

The long cleanup process is now in the works, removing debris from yards and clearing trees limbs and branches from the streets.

"Today started the marathon.  We're in this for a long time," said Scott Hansen, Benton County Emergency Management coordinator.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 80 percent of the town was still without power.  Officials say power will not be completely restored for anywhere between two to ten days.  In the meantime, the American Red Cross has set up a shelter at Vinton Shellsburg High School and is providing meals for the many in need.

Others like Thelma Bryant say they will spend another night at home without electricity.  Bryant, who lost six of her seven trees in her yard, is thankful her house was spared.

"It was so loud.  I thought it was coming through," she said.

The strong storm hit all corners of town, ripping roofs off homes and businesses alike.

The strength of the community is now on display front and center.  Neighbors and volunteers from outside the area are helping the town recover from the devastation.  A team of 18 from University of Iowa's Facilities Management is working to get the Iowa Braille School back on its feet.

"We've had people come help us before.  It's always good to help return the favor, and help others in the state," said Scott Gritsch, with UI Facilties Management.

Student athletes from Vinton Shellsburg High School spent their day clearing debris from the football field.  Winds bent the stadium light poles in half, destroyed a shed, and folded the scoreboard like a book.

"It speaks to the Midwest mentality, the Iowa mentality of us all coming together," said Vinton Shellsburg head football coach Pat Farley.

Damage at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Vinton won't hold up this year's fair, which begins Wednesday.

Organizers say 75 volunteers helped clean the area Monday and everything is good to go for Tuesday's scheduled start.

The fair runs through Sunday.

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