MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- Just a week and a half after being sworn in, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is back in Iowa and making sure the citizens of Marshalltown are getting what they need to recover from the July 19th tornado.
“Of course you see broken glass, you see a little bit of rain, and then you just see damage,” Matt Gerstandt, owner of Black Tire Co. in Marshalltown, said. “Then it’s mostly just shock of trying to figure out what's next.”
July 19 is a day Matt Gerstandt remembers all too well. Busy gearing up for RAGBRAI, the bike shop owner was in his local business when the tornado struck Marshalltown.
“As this is our primary income, supporting cycling and the community, we have to decide what to do,” Gerstandt said. “We were closed for over 60 days just trying to establish what to do next.”
Nearly six months has passed since losing the third floor of their building and suffering significant damage to both their store and the apartments above.
“The recovery is still happening. You can still find damage. You can still find people looking for answers,” Gerstandt said.
That's why Finkenauer wanted Marshalltown to be her very first stop in Iowa as a US Representative.
“You can read all day long about the stats or about how many businesses are affected, or how much it’s costing the community,” Finkenauer said. “But until you meet these folks face-to-face and hearing the stories yourself. It’s so important to make an impact.”
The tour started at the Black Tire Bike Co., a place she visited back on her campaign trail before the tornado.
“It’s interesting to see just the shock on her face, seeing what she knew. It’s a familiar place to her and she can see the significance of the damage,” Gerstandt said.
Rebuilt basically from the studs, Finkenauer says she wants to make sure local businesses like this can not only rebuild, but also grow from this disaster.
Finkenauer also stopped at the residential neighborhoods that were mainly affected. She also held office hours for constituents in the community to explain how they still need help.