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'By the grace of God' | News, Sports, Jobs – Fort Dodge Messenger

by Arifa Rana

Apr 14, 2022
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
The home owned by Don “Butch” and Janice Martin, southwest of Gilmore City, was hit directly with a tornado Tuesday evening. The Martins were able to get to their basement and were not injured. Friends, family and neighbors showed up Wednesday morning to help with the cleanup effort.
GILMORE CITY — When Lisa Buske is sitting in her house on Iowa Highway 3 west of Gilmore City, she can’t hear the emergency sirens, so she didn’t hear them when they went off Tuesday evening.
Instead, she was sitting in her living room watching the local news, which kept her apprised of the severe weather heading her way. When the meteorologist announced that a confirmed tornado was on the ground in Pocahontas County and heading her way, she got up to look out the front window.
“I saw the tornado start to come down from the clouds, but then it popped back up,” she said. “Then all of a sudden, it went black.”
Buske had just enough time to get downstairs to her basement and seek shelter under the stairs before she felt the twister hit her house.
“It happened so fast,” she said.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Friends, family and neighbors of Don “Butch” and Janice Martin help clean up a shop building that was destroyed in Tuesday’s tornado southwest of Gilmore City.
After minutes that felt like hours, Buske made her way back above ground, braced for the worst. In some ways, she was lucky — the tornado appeared to just clip the southeast corner of the house, nearly missing it entirely. Windows were broken and glass was everywhere, but the house still stood. And most importantly, she wasn’t injured.
However, that’s where her luck ran out. Her barn and a garden shed were completely gone, half of the machine shed was missing, power lines were down and debris carried by the storm was strewn around her property.
Buske was home alone when the storm hit, and she feels it was “by the grace of God” that she wasn’t injured and her home wasn’t more damaged.
“I went down, under my steps and I prayed to God and, I tell you what, He took care of me,” she said. “He totally made it miss my house, because it was coming right at me, but it curved around instead.”
On Wednesday, Buske’s home was still without electricity and water. A neighbor brought a generator to give her power.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A volunteer helps pile up tree and storm debris at the Martin’s property southwest of Gilmore City on Wednesday afternoon.
Don “Butch” Martin and his wife, Janice, live a few miles southwest from the Buske home, and weren’t quite as lucky. The tornado appears to have directly hit their house, tearing it apart and leveling a nearby workshop.
The Martins, like Buske, were watching the storm roll in.
“It looked bad out,” Janice Martin said.
“I saw this big cloud of dirt, that tornado they were talking about, and I said ‘Let’s go to the basement,’” Butch Martin said.
They got underground just in time. It took just about 20 seconds for the tornado to pass through, the Martins said.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Damage from a Tuesday evening tornado could be seen all over the area around Gilmore City.
“It was here and gone,” Butch Martin said.
On Wednesday, friends, family, neighbors and local volunteers came by to help the Martins clean up the property — storm debris and tree limbs were everywhere.
“There’s a lot of people here, I don’t even know half of them,” Janice Martin said.
It wasn’t easy seeing the home they raised their family in be ripped apart so violently.
“It’s hard because we had three sons we raised here,” Janice Martin said. “A lot of good memories… We had lots to be thankful for.”
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Debris litters the yard of Lisa and Brian Buske’s property just west of Gilmore City. Tuesday’s tornado hit several buildings on the property.
For now, the Martins are staying with her brother, but the future of their rural Pocahontas County home remains uncertain.
“We don’t know what we’ll do next,” Janice Martin said. “That will be a big decision. We’re getting a little older, so we may not want to rebuild.”
According to the National Weather Service, there were three individual tornadoes confirmed Tuesday night in Pocahontas and Humboldt counties.
An EF-2 tornado spanned over seven miles between Palmer and Gilmore City between 6:15 p.m. and 6:31 p.m. The tornado had winds up to 125 miles per hour. Also according to the NWS, there was just one injury reported with this tornado.
An EF-1 tornado with winds up to 110 miles per hour covered about four miles southwest of Rutland in Humboldt County between 6:29 p.m. and 6:39 p.m.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Part of the metal roof of a machine shed on the Buske property west of Gilmore City clings to a tree limb after Tuesday’s tornado.
The third tornado, another EF-2 with winds up to 125 miles per hour, was on the ground for about nine minutes at 6:41 p.m. east of Bradgate. No injuries were reported in either Humboldt County tornado.
An EF-0 tornado was also confirmed near Kanawha in Hancock County.
On Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for seven counties impacted by this week’s storms — Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Humboldt, Mitchell, Pocahontas, Winneshiek and Worth counties. The proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of the severe weather.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A machine shed on Lisa and Brian Buske’s property west of Gilmore City was nearly bisected by Tuesday’s tornado. Lisa Buske was home alone when the storm hit, but was not injured.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Debris lies where a large barn once stood on the property of Lisa and Brian Buske, west of Gilmore City on Iowa Highway 3. The barn was destroyed in Tuesday evening’s tornado
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Various debris is strewn around Lisa and Brian Buske’s property on Iowa Highway 3 west of Gilmore City. The property was hit with Tuesday evening’s tornado.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Broken tree limbs fill a ditch along Florida Avenue off of Iowa Highway 3 in Humboldt County. A tornado ripped through the area Tuesday evening, causing significant widespread damage.
-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A Tuesday night tornado and severe thunderstorm left significant damage to a barn at a property east of Gilmore City on Iowa Highway 3.
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