DES MOINES, Iowa — As we welcome in the new year, we are taking time to reflect on 2018. Iowans experienced devastating natural disasters, tragic deaths and community growth.
In July, an EF3 tornado tore through parts of Marshalltown. Strong winds damaged everything in its path and some people lost everything.
“I just feel so bad for everyone. You pick up and you move on. You do what you have to do,” a Marshalltown resident said.
As folks worked to clean up from the tornado, that same month a deadly flash flood hit parts of Polk County. Some neighborhoods took on more than four feet of water. Homes and vehicles were destroyed, and beloved personality Larry Cotler lost his life.
Des Moines city leaders blamed part of the flooding on outdated storm sewer drains.
“I almost drowned and my dog almost drowned. It was chest deep on me when I walked out of that house,” a Des Moines resident said.
A month later, in August, 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts was found dead in a cornfield. The discovery ended weeks of searching for the University of Iowa student. She was abducted while out on a run in Brooklyn, Iowa. Cristhian Rivera is behind bars charged with her murder.
In September, Iowa State University’s female athlete of the year, 22-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena was killed while playing golf near the ISU campus. Collin Richards is accused of stabbing her to death.
In 2018, Iowa also lost two influential leaders in Congressman Leonard Boswell and Robert Ray, Iowa’s 38th governor. Ray’s actions saved thousands of lives. His words inspired generations.
“Opening our arms and our hearts and our homes to other people who are in distress. And here we have a great opportunity to do something very very specific to help other people,” Ray said.