Members of the Winterset boys’ basketball team expected to spend the days leading up to the state tournament focusing on their opponent. Instead, they came together on Sunday to help clean up after Saturday’s deadly storm.
The team, which is set to face Marion in the Class 3A quarterfinals on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, met at the home of Cecilia Lloyd, 72, who was one of six people killed in the tornado . An overturned Cadillac sat where there was a three-car garage on the property Lloyd shared with her husband, Tom Lloyd, who was seriously injured, and their belongings were strewn in all directions.
“It’s more than basketball. We preach that to our guys anyhow. This is real life happening,” Winterset head coach Josh Henry said as he and his players worked. “Collecting clothes and personal effects shows you that life is so much more. than basketball or any sport.”
Senior forward Blake Bellamy echoed his coach.
“These are real life things that need to be done before basketball,” Bellamy said. “Basketball doesn’t come first when things like this happen.”
Continued:‘We are Iowans, this is what we do’: Neighbors come together to heal, cry after deadly tornado
Michelle McCool lives three houses south of Lloyds on Carver Road. She and her husband watched as the tornado passed their home, which was spared the storm.
“I thought it was a loud truck coming down the road,” McCool said. “And it got stronger and stronger. You could see the debris in the clouds as it passed.
McCool was the unofficial chef at Lloyds’ home on Sunday as volunteers cleaned up. She gathered the most valuable personal effects found — a film reel, social security cards, a Bible — and put them in her van. She coordinated with people who had questions and occasionally gave orders.
At around 2:30 p.m., a volunteer found Cecilia Lloyd’s wedding dress still wrapped in a garment bag. McCool suffocated as she put the dress in her truck, eventually being returned to the Lloyd family.
“It’s sad,” McCool said as he choked up. “Especially knowing that she didn’t survive.”
Brayden Dinkla is a junior at Winterset High School and a starting guard for the basketball team. He joined dozens of teammates and classmates who helped clean up on Sunday.
“It’s crazy sad,” Dinkla said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
Jill Houseman, a friend of McCool’s who helped on Sunday, said she expects many to pause cleanup efforts Tuesday so she can watch the Huskies play state.
“I think you’re going to see a great audience, a great support system,” Houseman said.