Mother Nature Halts Iowa's Memorial Weekend

Posted: 06-13-2008
Updated: 06-13-2008 04:51:24 PM


Mother Nature has drowned out the 14th annual Iowa Firefighter Memorial Service set for June 22.

The Iowa Firefighters Memorial is located in Coralville, along the Iowa River.

On Friday afternoon, Coralville firefighters were busy assisting with mandatory evacuations as the river and Clear Creek continued to rise.

A captain at the fire station was so busy he said he didn't have time to spell his name. "It's crazy here," he said before hanging up.

The fire station is not in danger, another firefighter said.

The new date for the annual memorial service has not been set.

In many areas, firefighters were working side-by-side with community members filling sandbags they hoped would help keep the flood waters at bay.

In Parkersburg, Iowa, fire apparatus has been placed back into the old firehouse.

"Our new building is pretty well shot," said Chief Bucky Nitcher.

Firefighters managed to get the apparatus out of the firehouse before a tornado hit on May 27. "We moved into the 100 by 150 building last August," the chief said. "We didn't make it a year."

Nitcher said some firefighters were out storm spotting so they had a bit of warning that bad weather was headed toward town. "We just moved back to the old station. But, we'll be back in the building by fall""

Five firefighters, including the chief, lost their homes in the tornado. But, they haven't let their own situations stop them from volunteering. They headed over to neighboring New Hartford to help them with sandbagging as the water started rising.

The extent of damage to Iowa fire stations won't be known for some time as the rivers continued to rise Friday.

The Iowa Firemen's Association is keeping abreast of its member departments. Donation and needs lists are being established.

Across the state in Marathon, the fire department's 125th anniversary celebration was in full swing. The area has not been hit by Mother Nature.

The parade set for Saturday also is expected to step off as planned. It was too early to determine if the weather would force some departments from attending, said Theresa Erickson, an organizer.

Firefighters in Abilene, Kan. were spotting storms, when they saw one headed their way. While their town escaped, nearby Chapman took a direct hit.

Abilene firefighters deployed with a rescue truck, and headed to help out. "We were doing primary and secondary searches. We had a few medical things to handle too," said Abilene Assistant Chief Ron Rein. "It's a mess over there in Chapman."$59851