RUDD, Iowa. - As a devastating tornado rolled through Rudd Wednesday night, a local resident went above and beyond to protect his neighbors from what was to come.
With heavy winds and rain bearing down on the town, Volunteer Firefighter Tyler Hicks answered the call when asked to sound Rudd's tornado siren system by hand.
"It's raining sideways, all that kind of stuff, and I'm still holding the button. It really wasn't too bad with all the gear on, and next thing you know, there's no button there anymore to pull down," Hicks said.
The intense moments Hicks weathered to warn Rudd residents of the impending tornado were captured on video. However, not pictured in the footage - the resilience it took to keep the siren blaring as the world around Hicks started tearing apart.
"I was mainly just thinking, you know, 'I don't want anybody to get hurt,' you know, just, 'I signed up to do this,' and that was my job that night." Hicks continued, "I could hear, as I was holding the siren, the tin being ripped off of some buildings, and I actually heard some wood being splintered and stuff, and that ended up actually being the pole."
That's when Hicks took cover inside his fire truck. But when conditions started to subside and he could see through his window, Hicks noticed, "there's no pull or button there anymore to hold on to. We were going around doing a damage assessment and making sure there were no injuries and casualties, which there weren't, everybody's okay, and I found the telephone pole that held it about a couple of blocks away."
Hicks says he'll never forget that harrowing night, which saw so much damage to the town he signed up to serve. While the road to recovery is anything but clear for Rudd, Hicks is relieved no one was hurt during the storm, and humbled by the support he's seen rush into the town since Wednesday.
"I'll tell you something, it's really awesome to see everybody come together and help out a small town like this. It's so appreciated, all the volunteer help, and all the donations, it's just unreal. Like, I can't thank people enough."
Anyone interested in lending a hand should call either the Rudd Fire Department or the City of Rudd, Hicks tells KIMT, and they can probably find something for you to do. The Rudd Public Library, which was destroyed in the tornado, has set up a GoFundMe page to help them rebuild, which can be found by following this link.