Standing on the deck of their farm home near Prescott, Craig and Amy Stalcup could see the massive tornado that would eventually destroy much of their property as it formed nearly 20 miles to the south the afternoon of May 21.

“It was on the ground what seemed like forever,” Craig said. “And it just never wavered. It made a straight line for our house.”

Dashing for the basement as the storm moved closer, 30 seconds of trees cracking, winds howling and the house moaning, and it was over. What they saw when emerging from underground was heartbreaking.

“The kitchen was a mess. A few boards came through the kitchen wall and windows and knocked the cupboards off the wall,” Craig explained. 

The roof and siding of the main home were damaged, and the home had shifted on its foundation. All the trees and buildings were gone, including two big machine sheds and a double garage. 

“It was really weird to look out there and see your things that were in the shed but now there’s no shed anymore,” said Amy.

One mile away, Tyler Edwards and his son, Nick, exited the safety of Tyler’s basement to see Nick’s farmstead nearby destroyed. They also watched the monster EF3 twister come from the south.

“It was pretty eye-opening from the deck watching it from about five miles away,” said Nick. “Knew it was coming our way … Finally, we said I think this one’s going to get us. Right before I went to the basement, I could hear the roar and it was big.”

Added Tyler, “It removed the house from the foundation and ripped the barn off the foundation…, took everything from the farm — machine shed, shop, all the equipment, both pig barns, four grain bins.” 

A semi was hurled over a fence, and vehicles and trailers were damaged. Roughly 60 pigs and six cows were fatally injured.

“It’s a helpless feeling,” said Nick. “I mean, where do you even start after something like this?”

Aid from Farm Rescue

While friends, family and community members were quick to provide assistance, the farm families also received aid from organizations such as Farm Rescue.

The week of May 27, the nonprofit Farm Rescue, based in North Dakota, arrived on site to help the Edwards and Stalcup families with spring fieldwork. 

Volunteers planted hundreds of acres of soybeans at each farm.

“We have volunteers and equipment here just to lend a hand and hopefully finish out the planting season for them,” said Dan Erdmann, Farm Rescue’s marketing program manager.

Founded in 2005, Farm Rescue has served more than 1,000 families across the Midwest who have experienced a major illness, injury or natural disaster. 

Last year, the Iowa Farm Bureau donated $10,000 to Farm Rescue to help expand its services in Iowa.

“It’s about lightening the burden,” Erdmann said. “Their minds are on everything but farming right now, and they’re trying to get back to some sense of normalcy. We’re here to get the crop in and hopefully get them onto the next season. That’s what it’s all about — just extending the livelihood of farm families.”

Volunteers Carl Benck from Fall River, Wisconsin, and Drew Fish from Waterloo tackled the planting at the Stalcup and Edwards farms. They said they were very happy to assist in a time of need.

“The Edwards …, there was a farmstead there 10 days ago and now there’s nothing but rubble,” Benck said. “I’m a retired grain farmer … We can climb in a tractor and run a planter. When you can come and help somebody like this, it’s a great feeling.”

Fish added, “For me, it just shows what Iowans are all about. You see the people that band together to help each other and work together to get things done.

“That’s the purpose of Farm Rescue …, just a neat concept.”

The Stalcups and Edwards said they are extremely grateful for the assistance provided by Farm Rescue. They said getting the remainder of the crop in the ground will ensure that the season isn’t lost. 

“It’s been wonderful because we really don’t have a planter or tractor right now,” said Nick. “They’ve taken care of a big worry at a time when we needed it.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities with Farm Rescue or to donate, visit