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Southwestern still strong one year later

Caption
(Contributed photo)
Spartan Hall was damaged after a strong EF2 tornado swept through Creston April 14, 2012. The right photo is what Spartan Hall looks like today.

Southwestern Community College took a direct hit last April when a strong EF2 tornado spiraled through the campus decimating several structures including student housing in Spartan Hall, Spartan Suites and West Hall.

Matt Thompson, dean of students at SWCC, said the college was fortunate last year’s tornado happened on a weekend because there were fewer students and faculty on campus.

No deaths were reported with the tornado, and only one student was injured.

Gov. Terry Branstad took a tour of the damage April 15, 2012, speaking to many of the SWCC students displaced from their dormitories. There were 150 students living in SWCC residence halls. Many of them lived in hotels for the remainder of the semester.

“This is a tremendous shock to the whole community, and I think it takes a little bit of time for people to realize what’s happened,” Thompson said, at the time. “Our students have reacted well. They have cooperated with us for the most part in staying away from the facilities as we’ve asked them to. This is southwest Iowa, people take care of each other and that’s what we’re going to continue to do here.”

The SWCC campus also received significant damage to the technical center and performing arts center. Tom Lesan, vice president of economic development, said Thursday total damage caused by the tornado on campus was more than $3.6 million.

Cleanup

To much suprise though, only two school days at SWCC were missed because of tornado damage last year. Hundreds of volunteers from Creston and across the state of Iowa were on SWCC campus immediately after the tornado helping cleanup the carnage.

“We were amazed at the amount of people that showed up,” Lesan said. “There were probably 300 people or more on our campus and they didn’t ask to be thanked. We did of course thank them, but they just jumped in and helped us get back on our feet.”

Lesan admitted, he couldn’t believe students only missed two days of school because initially he thought the campus may be shutdown for months.

Renovations to the dormitories were completed over the summer. The dormitories were ready just in time for students to move in for the fall semester in 2012. The technical center and performing arts center were completed later in 2012.

“I can’t believe it’s been one year, Thompson said. “I think we made the best of a challenging situation and we’ve come together and built a stronger Creston community.”

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