Regina Rebitz thought she was lost when she crested the hill that led to her house in New Hartford, Iowa. A short trip to secure a broken toilet flapper was all that prevented her from being in the house when the twister came through.
After losing their home to a tornado, Bruce Recker and Regina Rebitz find support in a Red Cross shelter.
Regina, her partner Bruce Recker, and her 15-year-old daughter Shonna, were among the first on the scene. Regina thought she might have taken a wrong turn because the landmark grove of pine trees next to the cemetery was gone.
On that Sunday before Memorial Day, the family had watched as people came to decorate the graves in the cemetery across the street from them. “It didn’t look like a cemetery. It looked like a flower patch,” Recker said.
What people had made progressively pretty throughout the morning, nature changed in a moment.
“It was like a scary movie,” Regina said. “The clouds were dark. The tombstones were flattened. Everything was gone.”
The pines were decimated but a red Chevy Impala sat among their remains, ignition on. They searched for people but found no one and later learned the trees had held the car in place so that three children and their mother could walk away.
Regina, Bruce and Shonna found their way to the American Red Cross shelter at Aplington Middle School where they received help more essential than food and shelter. Bruce experienced a seizure that night, the side-affect of a previous car accident, and Red Cross health services provided his medicine.
“Red Cross has helped in every way, shape and form possible from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed,” Bruce said.
Regina agreed. “They just took a lot off my mind.” With Red Cross help, she received money for necessities, a hotel room following closure of the shelter and counseling for her daughter.
“We used some money for gas so we could search for a home,” Regina said, and they found a mobile home that will soon be ready.
“Red Cross got us over the first bit of tragedy and beyond,” Bruce said. “They helped spiritually, physically, mentally.”
Donna Walker is a volunteer with the Iowa Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross, Marshalltown, Iowa.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.