At least five tornadoes battered central Iowa Thursday afternoon, skimming roofs off buildings at two manufacturing plants, toppling the top of a courthouse clock tower and damaging numerous houses and vehicles.
Miraculously, no fatalities were reported as of late Thursday night, and many of those taken to local hospitals were treated and released with minor injuries.
“We’re very blessed that everyone’s OK,” Marshalltown police Capt. Brian Batterson said.
Tornado warnings began sounding in Polk County around 2:55 p.m. Thursday. A short time later, reports trickled in of a funnel cloud touching down in Bondurant. At about 4:15 p.m., a tornado warning was issued for Pella, and about 20 minutes later, for Marshalltown.
Amy Halter was about to leave work when a co-worker looked out the window and saw a tornado rumbling toward the Marshall County Courthouse, across the street from her workplace in downtown Marshalltown.
“He said ‘Run!’ and we ran,” said Halter, who works at a law office in the Masonic Temple building on Marshalltown’s downtown square.
Rod Donavon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said as a cold front moved through Iowa, conditions became favorable for thunderstorm supercells.
But, he added, “we were surprised by the unexpected strength of these. The numbers and the strength of these were a little more than we expected.”
About 70 children were at a day camp at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a historic building near downtown Marshalltown. When the tornado sirens went off, the children were quickly ushered to the basement.
“They told us everyone would be OK and everyone would be safe,” said Tyler Dorothy, 10.
When staff and the children returned upstairs, “everything was gone,” Dorothy said. “The bleachers, the basketball hoops. The roof.”
SOURCE: Kathy A. Bolten
Des Moines Register