MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- The Marshall County Landfill received about 500 loads of debris from homes and businesses damaged by the tornado that ripped through Marshalltown on Thursday.
One family said the tornado flattened their entire house while they were inside, and now they are stuck with the task of cleaning up what's left of the home where the family raised several generations.
“We didn’t hear the house go up because I was screaming too loud. I was petrified. But I guess from how he explains it because he was on top of all of us is it lifted up and set that part back down and just took the rest of it. I don’t understand how the foundation did not fall in on us. I really don’t, I just can’t explain it. It’s a very big miracle,” Ashley Thomas said.
The Thomases and Cowans have lived in Marshalltown their whole lives.
“It meant a lot. It was our family home, we raised our kids here. Then my daughter bought it from us and her and my three grandkids and her husband lived here, and they had a roommate,” Teresa Cowan said.
For the first few days of cleanup, the landfill was still charging for each load that was dropped off at the rate of $55 per ton and a $10 minimum per load.
“We’re in about $200 to $250. I mean that, it just was frustrating. That they were worried about the downtown getting cleaned up and they weren’t charging anything there. It was just take it and throw it in and they would get picked up and dumped,” Cowan said.
Starting on Sunday, though, the City of Marshalltown waived the drop-off fees, which was a major relief to homeowners.
“Well the City of Marshalltown stepped up to the plate and they’re accepting residential debris at no charge. So, fortunately for the members of the community that are already in a pretty rough place, they’re able to come out here and dump at no charge,” Marshall County Landfill Manager Don Ballalatak said.
Cowan said she is very thankful they waived the fees.
“Today we had take approximately 26 loads with trucks, trailers, and big dump trucks,” Cowan said.
She said they wouldn’t be where they are today without dozens of volunteers from far and wide.
“This neighborhood and the community and everyone has been really amazing. They really have,” Thomas said.
Thomas said it is a miracle that no one was badly hurt.
“We were all safe, and I just count my lucky stars. We just count our lucky stars every day. Every day since this happened. I’ve never been through anything like this, and it was the scariest thing ever,” Thomas said.
The landfill is asking for yard waste to be dropped off at the compost site and household or building debris to be dropped off at the landfill. The compost site is located at 900 Woodland Street in Marshalltown. Drop-off is free. The landfill is located at 2313 Marshalltown Boulevard.
In order to waive the drop-off fee, residents just need to write down their names and the address from which the debris is coming.
The landfill is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The Thomas family is asking for gift cards to help alleviate financial stress. Gift cards can be sent to Ashley Thomas at 208 Park Street, Garwin, IA 50632.