WINTERSET, Iowa — Families and the Winterset community struggled to put their loss into words two days after an EF-4 tornado ripped the town apart.
The tornado remained on the ground for 69.5 miles and had estimated peak winds at 170 mph, according to a survey from the National Weather Service. Saturday tornadoes claimed the lives of six people in Madison County and one in Lucas County.
But the memories of the lives lost live on, through their friends and family who knew them best.
One of those victims is Melissa Bazley, 63. Melissa's daughter and her family were visiting Saturday night when the storm hit. Melissa, her son-in-law Michael Bolger, 37, and her two grandchildren, 5-year-old Kenley and 2-year-old Owen, also perished.
Rodney Clark, 64, and Cecilia Lloyd, 72, were also killed in the storm.
According to the GoFundMe set up for the Bolger family, the only two to survive were Melissa's daughter Kuri and grandson Brysen.
Melissa's niece Abbie Sawyer spoke of her aunt fondly.
"'Live today, love today.' That was always her saying," Abbie told Local 5's Carson J.S. Reichardt. "Whenever she was around, you're just inspired to hug a little bit longer, to play another round of the game that we're playing, to say a cheers, to tell somebody that you love them."
That inspiration is being paid forward in a big way. As of 7:45 p.m. Monday, the GoFundMe set up for the family has raised more than $400,000.
The support has been overwhelming.
"This tragedy is being surrounded by love from so many people, makes it easier to keep going," Sawyer said. "There's going to be a long road ahead for the family in recovery, and a long road ahead of processing the trauma."
Other families from the community are also working to pick up the pieces. More information on donating to those affected by Saturday's tornadoes can be found by clicking/tapping here.