Part of the evacuation process today included the Sheriff’s Office.
They were going door-to-door telling people to evacuate and seek shelter in Kensett.
People started gathering in the Kensett community center right around 10 am.
The center acted designated site for evacuees.
As you can imagine after an event like this there was a sense of chaos, but emergency management coordinators worked hard to keep everything organized and more importantly, everyone calm.
“This has never happened in my life before, so I was a little nervous, yeah.”
Jason Solberg is joining hundreds of other Northwood residents as they seek shelter at the Community Center.
“I was at work at the grocery store in Northwood and the store manager said the whole town of Northwood is being evacuated,” says Solberg.
“I didn’t know anything about it.”
Larry Klitzke was also working when he heard the news.
“They came in and told us they were shutting everything down and locking everything up,” says Klitzke.
“Just like a disaster, it’s a little chaotic at first, we’re starting to now get things broken down,” says Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve O’Neil.
Emergency Management Coordinators from around north Iowa set up post at the community center .
Members of the Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and local law enforcement were also on scene to assist and keeping people calm, with updates whenever they had them.
“We’ll be keeping track of these people, letting them know what’s happening getting them back as soon as we can. As far as at the scene, that’ll be up to the incident commander what info they release,” says O’Neil.
Folks who evacuated with their four-legged friends were sent to City Hall to take shelter.
At around noon the center started reaching capacity, so crews worked to bus people over to a nearby church.
“Hopefully they’ll get this resolved before the day is over, otherwise we will start gearing up to make it an overnight shelter also.”
Luckily, an overnight shelter did not have to happen as Northwood was “reopened” in the afternoon.
It was a scary day for many residents but thanks to many volunteers at the shelter, folks like Klitzke were able to remain calm.
“At first I was a little nervous and everything but I think I’m getting calm now, because I see all my friends, relatives.”
The mayor of Kensett said they saw 300-400 people come through their town to take shelter.
They even started a triage unit in the community center for any folks who needed any medical attention.
Many residents were talking about a chemical odor as they were leaving town.
Medical staff at the shelter were going around to everyone making sure they weren’t experiencing any respiratory issues.
At one point buses of nursing home residents arrived from Northwood to take shelter.
Nurses were assisting those people with any medical needs.