McGREGOR, Iowa -- Last July, an EF1 tornado struck the historic river town of McGregor. While the storm caused a lot of damage, the perception of the town being closed may have caused just as much trouble.
During the storm cleanup, McGregor was closed to visitors to facilitate repairs. Since it is a river town, access is limited to either end of town. Authorities closed the town for a few days, until a path was cleared. But once the town opened up, people did not come back.
“I still continue to have a lot of calls like, are we okay, can we handle visitors and guests here in our town?” said Kristie Austin, Director of the McGregor Marquette Chamber of Commerce. “I want to assure everybody, yes we are here, ready to serve everyone that comes through to enjoy the beautiful view.”
Katie Ruff’s business By The Spoonful was not damaged.
"But for me, because the power was out, we were without power for a few days, I have five freezer doors of items that a few hours without power is okay, but a few days is not," said Ruff.
Ruff said she had a hard time getting her friends and family allowed into town to help her move her frozen foods to the Edgewood Locker to keep things cold. Even after the roads reopened to traffic, though, she noticed a drop in her summer business.
"What a lot of people were hearing even months after, they kind of were staying away, thinking the town was flattened or that there wasn't anything more to see, and so they just want to stay away from it," she said.
This weekend McGregor hosts its fall Arts and Crafts Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information on things to see in the McGregor area, click here.