New fire station reflects recovery in Garrison after 2011 storm - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New fire station reflects recovery in Garrison after 2011 storm

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GARRISON (KWWL) -

People in the Benton County town of Garrison are marking a milestone in the recovery from a windstorm last summer. In July, 130 MPH winds tore through the town, destroying homes, trees, and the town's fire station.

Garrison firefighters have spent nearly a year raising money, then rebuilding the fire station. Saturday afternoon, they officially unveiled the new place to the public.

"We've been through a lot in the last eleven months. At times it was hard to believe we'd actually be at this point. But we're here," said Garrison Fire Chief Steve Meyer. "It's a good feeling. Starting to feel like home again."

The fire station is like home for folks like the Erickson's. With three generations of Garrison firefighters in the family, losing the building last summer was like losing a part of their history.

"It was hard to see because I watched them build this. I was a teenager when they built this," said Amanda Erickson, who's father, grandfather, and now husband have all served on the department.

After the storm, it wasn't a matter of if they were going to rebuild. It was a matter of when. You see, in Garrison, the fire station isn't just a place to turn to for help. It's a part of their community.

"This is all we got! We don't have a whole lot in our small town," said Erickson.

"This is the thing that really represents the City of Garrison, the community of Garrison, anymore. So it's, on the one hand they rely on us for emergency services. BUt the other thing is, this is the one thing the community still identifies with," said Meyer.

Less than one year later, a new, larger fire station stands in the footprints of the old building. But the firefighters still have a hurdle to cross.

"We have over $100,000 yet outstanding on ourselves because of this," said Meyer.

Insurance only covered a portion of the rebuild. The rest has to come from Garrison.

"We don't have the income coming from tax base at all. So everything is donated. We get lots of grants," said Erickson.

"The fire department, whenever it had a challenge before for raising money, we've always gotten it done. The community has stood behind us. And I have no doubt that that will get taken care of. It will take some time, but it will get done," said Meyer.

In the meantime, the firefighters, and the community, are proud to settle into their new station. The Erickson's are looking forward to making new memories -- and inspiring a new generation of firefighters. Two year-old Ryne is already at home among the trucks.

"He will probably be on the fire department. We're hoping so, anyway!" said Erickson.

Garrison also lost its library in the windstorm. The town is still working to rebuild that structure.

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