Adams pitches in for victims

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2000

ADAMS – It began, like many good ideas do in this community, over morning coffee.

Tuesday, August 08, 2000

ADAMS – It began, like many good ideas do in this community, over morning coffee.

Email newsletter signup

"I talked to Tom Mullenbach at breakfast one day and we said we should do a benefit for both the Granite Falls tornado victims as well as the Austin flood victims. It just came up over morning coffee," Curt Sheely said.

The result is an Aug. 20 fund-raiser, beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s auditorium in Adams.

There will be sweet corn, brats and pork burgers, potato salad, baked beans and more. Free-will offerings will be accepted.

So many people have rallied behind the idea that began with a conversation between Sheely and Mullenbach over morning coffee that it is, literally, impossible to list all who are volunteering.

"I wouldn’t want to do that, because I would be afraid we would accidentally miss someone or some organization or business," Sheely said.

"Let’s just say Adams clubs, organizations and businesses are helping," Mullenbach suggested.

The July 10 flooding caused extensive damage in Austin, where more than 150 homes sustained minor or major damage.

Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration representatives quickly responded to help victims apply for assistance.

In the meantime, the volunteers of the Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army Austin Corps moved from house to house offering direct services to victims.

The cleanup is complete, but individual households still are reeling from the emotional impact and preparing to deal with the financial impact leftover from the flooding.

But, that’s only one part of this story.

"When I heard the news about Granite Falls, I couldn’t believe it," said Sheely, assistant vice president at Farmers State Bank of Adams and Rose Creek. "We used to live there."

For five years, Sheely and his wife Linda and their children lived in Granite Falls. When they heard news reports of the July 25 tornado that swept through the community, they were shocked.

"We saw streets and neighborhoods that we remembered. We saw where we lived. We saw it all," Sheely said. "Can you imagine it? There were 150 homes destroyed and another 350 significantly damaged. That’s 30 percent of their entire residential housing."

Sheely called the city of Granite Falls and talked to emergency officials to see how bad the damages were there.

The next morning, when he saw Mullenbach, owner of Sunshine Electric and a highly respected civic booster in Adams, Sheely told his friend: "We had to do something for these people."

When they left the restaurant, the idea started taking shape.

The Adams Volunteer Fire Department agreed to help and the Adams Area Ambulance Service, too. The Adams Sportsmen Club, Adams Lions Club and American Legion Post No. 146 also were willing. Little Cedar Lutheran Church and Sacred Heart Catholic Church organizations agreed, too.

Area pork producers and dairy farmers said they wanted to help in any way they could. Mark Conrad, the master meat cutter at Rose Creek Locker Service, volunteered his services.

By last week’s end, the list was growing and Sheely and Mullenbach were playing it safe and crediting the Adams community, groups and organizations" with sponsoring the fund-raiser Aug. 20.

"We called the emergency services center at Granite Falls and asked them what the victims needed the most," said Sheely. "They told us that money will help."

"Also, we contacted the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and learned about the combined disaster fund they have for the Austin flood victims," he said.

"We don’t know how much we will raise, but we do know that every little bit helps," Mullenbach said.

"It’s going to take time, a long time, in fact, for those people at Granite Falls to recover," Sheely said.

"My wife and I still have friends there, so we know what they’re going through," he said. "Money will help in a small way to offset some of the expenses they have."

"I think all of us can relate to what they’re going through. Adams had a tornado go through the town a few years ago and we all still remember that," Mullenbach said. "Many of our residents went to St. Peter when they suffered that tornado a couple of years ago and Adams people went south to Iowa in the Great Flood of 1993 to help there."

So good were the Adams volunteers in 1993, that Smokey Smith, a retired country music legend who was on the receiving end of some of the assistance, still corresponds with Adams residents.

"This is just a town of volunteers," Mullenbach said.

Anyone who cannot attend the benefit dinner Aug. 20 for tornado and flood victims may contribute a check. For more information, call Sheely at Farmers State Bank in Adams at (507) 582-3448.