Clarke County officials assist Creston after storm

Clarke County Law enforcement and Fire Department officials were among public-safety officials there to lend a helping hand to the city of Creston after the community was struck by a EF2 tornado Saturday. The tornado was part of a widespread storm system that hit parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The storm damaged Greater Regional Medical Center, Southwest Community College, Green Hills Area Education Agency and homes, as well as other structures.

Several officers from the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department and Osceola Police Department assisted with traffic control after the power went out across the city, until law enforcement could put up traffic barricades.

“Out of town officers can handle traffic pretty easily,” said Osceola Police Chief Marty Duffus.

“That allows the local officers to deal with local issues. They know the area and can focus on search and rescue recovery.”

Osceola Volunteer Fire Department also sent several volunteers to help with building searches Saturday evening and Sunday.

Clarke County Hospital

When Clarke County Hospital officials learned Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston sustained damages from a tornado Saturday night, they were ready to assist in whatever capacity necessary.

CCH Emergency Services Director Ron Ross was in constant contact with the Union County Emergency Incident Command Center, and Clarke County Hospital Chief Executive Officer Brian Evans was at CCH working with Ron and staff to help coordinate efforts in the event Greater Regional needed to transfer patients to Osceola.

“We were more than ready,” Ross said. “Our team maintained contact with people in Creston throughout the night.”

After the tornado strike, from the small Union County town of Cromwell to 10 miles northeast of Creston, Clarke County Hospital staff stood by and prepared for potential transfers.

“It is truly rewarding to work with a team of people that readily put others before themselves in the name of compassion,” Evans said. “When our staff got word that a tornado had struck Creston, the great people of CCH stepped forward to offer assistance in many ways.  Our emergency department team got things clicking when word came of the tornado.  I appreciate Ron Ross’s experience in planning for emergency situations. When we heard that patients may be transferred our way, the first shift stayed on in case we were hit with numerous transfers and admits. Knowing they were staying late, plans were started for Sunday, and we had many volunteer to come in and start the Sunday shift because Saturday’s shift had a very long day. “

Contrary to initial media reports Saturday evening, Greater Regional did not transfer its patients to Clarke County Hospital. However, CCH’s chief executive officer complimented staff for its readiness and prompt reaction to help its neighbors to the west.

“Our team was ready and willing to support our neighbors,” Evans said. “Our prayers go out to the families who were affected by the tornado, and we will continue to offer support to our Greater Regional neighbors.  I remain thankful for the team of caring, compassionate people who were here and ready to assist during this disaster situation.”

Other damage

According to the National Weather Service in Des Moines, Murray received tennis ball- to baseball-sized hail, which damaged several vehicles. Murray High School’s play was interrupted by storm warnings. Cast and audience members moved to the wrestling room for about 40 minutes before finishing the play, said drama instructor Ashley Koop.

Heavy rainfall was reported in Osceola during the storm. Meteorologist Kevin Skow said Osceola area received about 2.43 inches of rain. Winds were estimated at about 60 miles per hour.

The weather service also confirmed that a EF1 tornado touched down three miles east of New Virginia.