Dozens of agencies join forces to offer resources to those impacted by EF2 tornado in Iona

Published: January 22, 2022 7:28 PM EST
Updated: January 22, 2022 11:03 PM EST

On Saturday, dozens of agencies gathered in Lee County as a way to help families affected by last week’s EF2 tornado. Many had their homes destroyed in Iona along the McGregor corridor.

Edward Murray is typically the one helping others. But, on Saturday, Murray had to get some essentials after the EF2 tornado in Iona took everything from him. “Trying to find out what is available, to give us some assistance in getting re-established. Meeting some very nice people who have done some very wonderful things,” said Murray.

The Lee County Emergency Management Center opened on Saturday, and leaders there say they’ll remain open as long as needed. Sandra Tapfumaneyi is the director of Lee County Emergency Management. “We are asking them questions about what kind of damage that might have occurred, do they have insurance that might cover some of those damages, and just trying to meet the unmet needs with the resources that we have here locally,” said Tapfumaneyi. 

Inside, organizations like the Red Cross, the United Way and the Lee County Tax Collector were all on hand. And outside, there was a Harry Chapin Food Bank distribution taking place. The emergency management center became like a one-stop-shop.

Richard LeBer is the CEO of Harry Chapin Food Bank. “Even if your food wasn’t destroyed, when people take that kind of financial hit, a lot of times, where they try to economize with their food budget, which makes it hard for them to have enough food to feed themselves and their families,” LeBer said.

Carolyn Mijokovic wants to be sure that everyone has what they need. So that’s why she volunteers. “it’s almost like PTSD. You know, you are so shocked when you do see it. And it doesn’t leave you. So, you feel like you want to do something,” Mijokovic said.

Murray is grateful for the generous spirit of people like Mijokovic. “I feel a little strange being in the situation because usually, I’m the one doing the helping. But I feel a little strange. But I’m so gratified, and I just hope that God blesses everyone that has been involved,” Murray said.

The most recent damage assessment says the 74 homes were completely destroyed during the storm, and 61 homes had major damage. Another 58 homes suffered minor damage.

The Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The temporary center is located at the Wa-Ke Hatcheee Recreation Center. No closing date has been announced so far.