Mapleton, IA Two Years After Massive Tornado

(MAPLETON, IA) This year it's hail and high wind. Two years ago today it was a tornado that ripped through Mapleton, Iowa. And even now residents are still rebuilding what they lost that night.

10 minutes. That's all the warning this town got before a massive tornado wiped out the place they called home.

"My sister and law and my two nieces asked us to come downtown for supper. We got downtown and the siren went off and all I could think of was I just want to get home," says Erin Cooper, who experienced the Mapleton Tornado.

Erin Cooper and her family grabbed their dinner to go and jumped in the car.

"It was just minutes later that we got to the house and it hit. I could just hear a train. It sounded like a train was coming. I'll never forget the noise. We could have been right in it," says Cooper.

No one was killed during the tornado but the damage was devastating.

"Just looking up the basement steps and just seeing debris all over, insulation limbs, you name it, leaves. And then when I come up out of the basemen you know the windows... the windows gone. Our neighbor's house was gone," she says.

2 years later Erin is still piecing her house back together.

"We had to wait for our construction group. We just had to wait our turn. So it has just been a really long haul for us. I don't know what I'd do without my family. My brother's done a lot of the construction. So It's taken a while but its it will be well worth it in the end," says Cooper.

Mapleton is still recovering today.

There was plenty of damage to these grain bins - the tops and sides are still smashed in.
But things are beginning to get back to normal. Maple Valley Anthon Oto High school was badly damaged during the storm.

Principal Dan Dougherty remembers that night well because the school was hosting a play when all the actors and audience had to take cover.

"[The] elementary building. That would be where the play took place that night and as I came up you saw the whole top of the roof that was just hanging, the metal part was hanging down. There was a great deal of damage to the roof, a lot of rain coming through seeping through the gym and onto the stage," says Dougherty.

The school has spent more than a million dollars repairing the gymnasium and stage. The baseball field also took a hit knocking out light posts and blowing the entire seating area over.

And although Dougherty hopes a storm like this will never happen again he says the school is prepared for Mother Nature.

"I think back to last year when we had our prom in inclement weather we did have a plan, we knew where we were going to go with a crowd of about 1500 people. We have tornado drills, we go through the whole thing so I think as long as your proactive then you know what to expect," he says.

Dougherty says the school sent students and teachers into the community to help with clean-up and rebuilding and even sent a few emergency supplies to another town down south after it was hit by a tornado.

Mapleton's way of paying it forward.

For more information on the tornado you can go to the Mapleton IA Tornado Information Facebook page: