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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


Katie Ruff knows that she’s one of the lucky ones. Her specialty food shop sustained minimal damage from the tornado that last Wednesday night tore a path through the McGregor business district.

“Part of my deck railing was torn off and some of the patio furniture is missing,” said Ruff, who lives above the building that houses her shop, By the Spoonful. “I got scratched compared to other business owners so I’m not going to complain about the damage I received.”

Ruff, who is the newly installed president of the McGregor Chamber of Commerce, was on her way to a Chamber meeting when the storm hit.

“It all happened so fast that I didn’t know how bad things were until it was over,” she continued. “The Chamber board took shelter in our back storeroom, and from the time we did that to the time the storm passed seemed like only five minutes. During the storm, board members were getting phone calls from loved ones telling them of the damage happening. That’s when it sunk in that this was bad.

Eventually classified by the National Weather Service as an EF-1 tornado with winds of up to 110 mph, the funnel damaged two historic buildings beyond repair. At least one other building took a significant hit. Numerous trees were knocked down, and the streets were littered with glass shards and bricks from damaged structures. Cars were destroyed; signs and awnings were ripped away, as well.

Most of the downtown businesses were without power for more than 48 hours. That was a challenge for Ruff, whose stocks fresh cheese, meat and frozen products.

“I was in contact with Edgewood Locker soon after the storm, and they gave me space to store my perishable items,” Ruff said. Ruff took advantage of empty cases and freezers to do some deep cleaning. She was restocked and reopened by late Saturday morning.

McGregor has been a hive of activity since the storm hit. Tourism is an important component of the town’s economy so everyone wants to be up and running as soon as possible.

  A fund has been established to help with the rebuilding efforts (see related article on page 9). In addition to contributions, Ruff has one other suggestion for people who want to assist the town.

“For those who love McGregor, one of the biggest things you can do to help is to continue to support us,” she said. “Yes, some of our businesses will be closed for a while as they assess their damage but many of our businesses have already re-opened. Don’t let the tornado keep you from enjoying the amenities McGregor has to offer. ”

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