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Eastern Iowa communities come together to assess damage, clean up from Wednesday storms

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DYSART, Iowa (KWWL)- Many across Eastern Iowa spent part of Thursday assessing the damage from Wednesday night's severe storms.

Between patching holes in roofs, picking up downed trees lines, and clearing debris, it was a long day of cleaning up for those in Dysart.

The town was hit by two tornadoes Wednesday evening. The first was an EF-1 tornado with wind gusts of up to 100mph. It happened just after 7 p.m. and was on the ground for just over a mile. The damage was primarily on Tilford, Blaine, Park, and Crisman Streets.

Amy Eikamp's house was unscathed by the storm, but she spent Thursday helping her neighbors who were less lucky.

"That's just a part of being a good neighbor," she said. "We always try and step up and help when someone is in need."

The tornado ripped the roof right off Tom Brandt's garage. Pieces of it ended up in his backyard, his neighbor's house and the street behind his.

"After the wind settled, and things were quiet, I came outside into the garage and I looked up and I said, 'Honey, we don't have a garage,'" Brandt said. "There was a running waterfall through our house since the roof was missing over the kitchen."

Debris from Brandt's house and one of their neighbor's houses alone filled up two dumpsters. Friends and strangers helped him pick up the pieces.

"Dysart is the place to be when disaster hits," Brandt said. "They don't run away, they come to you and there's no other place I'd rather be."

It is a weird position for Brandt, who is used to playing a different role as a Dysart firefighter. He is normally the one running in to help as others flea.

"Usually, I am the one that wears a pager on my hip and answers the call goes running in the middle of the night," he said. "It is good to know that the brothers my brothers and sisters in the fire service were there."

In his moment of need, it wasn't just his fellow firefighters but his entire community who came running to help.

"Dysart was in full force this morning," Brandt said. "Friends neighbors came by with food and asked 'how can we help you?' It was overwhelming because we didn't know where to point them. Everybody wanted to help."

As a firefighter, he has seen the damage from tornadoes first hand. He remembers responding to the Parkersburg tornado and how officials have to put cardboard or plywood signs up to mark the streets, just to tell where they were.

As the town of 1300 came together to help neighbors and strangers piece their lives back together, Brandt and his wife are still processing the damage. Most of all, they are just grateful despite all the damage, no one was hurt.

"My wife's not taking it as well, but we're both okay," he said. "We are upright and breathing. We have family and friends. It's all good."

Oelwin Tornado

The community of Oelwein was hit by a tornado just after 6:30 Wednesday evening. The tornado was an EF-0 with winds up to 70 miles per hour. It was on the ground for three miles.

Several buildings sustained damage, including the high school football field. Small structures were lifted and moved, metal fences were pushed over, and debris covered the ground.

Thousands were without power overnight due to downed power lines and trees.

Manchester Tornado

The National Weather Service confirmed two EF-1 tornados touched down in Manchester Wednesday. The storms had winds between 90 and 110 miles per hour.

One was Southwest on the town and the other hit the Southwest corner of Manchester.

Several buildings were damaged, corn was flattened and tree limbs snapped off. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Waverly Tornado

One of the hardest-hit areas was nearly Waverly and Shell Rock. The area was hit by two EF-1 tornados with winds of 95 to 105 mile per hour shifts.

The tornado reportedly damaged houses, barns, crops, cars, and power lines.

Clean-up efforts were still underway Thursday. Residents were still dealing with downed powerlines blocking roadways.

Several people help community fires to try and get rid of debris. Most of the damage was not salvageable.

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Daniel Perreault

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