Alden editor comes home to wreckage

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beth Zeller, the editor of the Alden Advance, was in Des Moines Thursday night babysitting her grandson. She planned to be there until Sunday.

Her husband, Jeff, was driving a truck for Minnesota Corrugated Box when a tornado tore through their Alden farm and the life they had established there.

Their machine shed was destroyed and a grain bin practically disappeared. Pigs were missing and most of the barn that held them was leveled.

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As she was brought home that night by her son and daugher-in-law, she knew it was bad but no match for reality she found when she arrived.

“I fell apart,” said Beth, on when she first saw the damage. “Jeff had warned me that there wasn’t much left.”

Beth arrived back on her farm at 11 p.m. Thursday, 2 1/2 hours after her husband and neighbors were already helping move hogs to a nearby empty barn and strangers were covering her tattered house in tarps.

“I thank every person who came,” Beth said.

The night was full of hard work, moving all the hogs from their farm by 3 a.m., but the morning was even harder. The destruction sunk in even more in the daylight.

“It was hard,” Beth said, of the next morning. “I was just trying to figure out how to start again.”

The garage had collapsed and the living room’s roof was gone. Rain soaked everything that would absorb it and mud had painted the home’s interior walls black.