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Benefit for victims of tornado is Sunday

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- A benefit for the Johnny Bents family of rural Iona will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Westminster Presbyterian Church's Geneva Hall, 230 Clary St., Worthington.

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The home Bents and his children reside in along the Nobles-Murray county line was damaged by a tornado on June 11. The benefit includes a pork sandwich meal, with free-will donations accepted.

Bents and two of his four children were home at the time the tornado struck. They took cover in the basement of the farm house and were not injured.

"It was weird. It was like the tornado split and went around the house," said Bents, adding that aside from the broken windows, missing shingles and the toppling of the brick chimney, there was no structural damage to the home. The tornado did take out a row of evergreen trees and twisted many of the trees in the grove.

"The carpets all had to come out; there was glass everywhere," Bents said of the damage inside the home. "The hardest thing was on the kids -- they had to throw a lot away."

Bents' children include 13-year-old Ciara, 10-year-old Santanna, 7-year-old Kaleb and 5-year-old Coltan. His two daughters were staying with friends in Fulda when the storm passed through.

Bents and his children had been living in the home for nearly three years, and he said in that time he had been working to fix the place up for his family.

Since the tornado, the family has been living with cousins about five miles away. Bents isn't sure when they will be able to return to their home.

Meanwhile, several volunteers have helped clean up the property, whether it was sawing felled trees, ripping out carpets, throwing out furniture, clothing and other belongings littered with glass or removing shingles and shingling the house.

"Jerry Ebbers, the head supervisor of the kill floor (at Swift & Co., where Bents works), he cut wood for about five hours on Thursday (the day after the storm)," Bents said. Bruce Ackerman donated his construction skills for nearly a week to repair some of the damage, and a cousin postponed his trucking load several days to stay and help with the cleanup efforts.

"The Monday after the storm, church members from just east of Mankato came to help shingle," Bents said. "It amazes me how people come to help."

The local Red Cross also assisted the family, along with several volunteers from Westminster Presbyterian Church.

"Everybody that helped in any way, may God bless them in the way that he knows how," Bents said. "I don't know how else to word it -- the love and the people coming has been overwhelming."

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