Charles City Family Describes Moment Tornado Hit Their Home

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FLOYD COUNTY, Iowa -- Severe weather was difficult to avoid this Memorial Day. An EF-1 tornado swept through Floyd County damaging homes and buildings in its path.

The Floyd County Fairgrounds was where most of the damage occurred. That`s where the National Weather Service confirmed the EF-1 tornado touched down with winds up to 110 mph, but there were also homes that were damaged, including one north of Charles City where a family of five was in the basement when the tornado struck.

“We were in the house just doing normal things. She was cutting up watermelon and all of a sudden it was raining, but it started raining a lot harder and then it got to the point where it got so windy you knew that it was more than just straight line winds where we needed to get covered,” said Elijah Schwake.

“My ears popped in so I couldn`t really hear anything, and I was just trying to keep the kids calm, so I just wasn`t really paying attention to what was going on,” said Kristen Schwake.

The tornado took part of the roof off the Schwake's home, uprooted dozens of trees, and completely destroyed their barn just feet from where they were taking cover in their basement.

“I could hear a lot of debris hitting the house and I can hear the wind and things like that and that was about it, I mean, it was over, it happened and it was over so quick. It was just almost like instinct kicked in and I was just getting the basement,” said Elijah Schwake.

Just 12 miles southeast of the Schwake's home on the opposite side of Charles City is what`s left of the Floyd County Fairgrounds.

Multiple buildings were damaged, including a multipurpose brick building that was completely destroyed. Across the street, the Floyd County Ag Center was also damaged.

“We are aware of 11 properties in Floyd County that have some structural damage, including the Floyd County Fairgrounds. Three houses are not livable at this time so they received major damage,” said Floyd County Sheriff Jeff Crooks.

One of those homes is the Schwake's. Once white, it is now covered in mud and insulation.

Already in the process of cleaning up just hours after the tornado, they don`t know when they will be able to live in their home again.

“Really when it comes down to it, it`s just material crap. It doesn`t mean anything, so we have our faith, we are Jehovah`s Witnesses, that`s what we believe, and we know that we can replace these things some, but it`s the lives of our family my wife that`s what`s most important,” said Elijah Schwake.


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