Fatal storms pummel Iowa, reducing parts of one town to rubble

News | May 21, 2024
Tornado damage in Nevada, Iowa

By Brad Brooks and Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – Severe thunderstorms, apparently spawning tornadoes, raked Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, leaving parts of one town in shambles, toppling several wind turbines and killing at least one person, according to authorities and local media.

Video of the storm’s aftermath aired by television station KCCI, a CBS affiliate in the state capital of Des Moines, showed several homes reduced to piles of rubble in Greenfield, Iowa, a town of about 2,000 roughly 60 miles (97 km) to the southwest.

“I’ve lived here all my life. I’m just praying that everyone was safe, that everybody’s safe, and nobody got hurt,” Valerie Warrior, a Greenfield resident, said in a KCCI interview, standing near some of the demolished dwellings. “It was scary, very scary.”

KCCI reported the damage to Greenfield was apparently caused by a tornado.

Other video showed smashed vehicles and heavy damage to a gasoline station in Greenfield, the county seat of Adair County, which along with adjacent Adams County appeared to have borne the brunt of the Iowa storms in the southwestern corner of the state.

KCCI reported that Adair County Hospital in Greenfield was damaged and was evacuated, citing a hospital spokesperson.

At least one person, a woman in Adams County, was listed as a storm-related fatality, the county’s medical examiner Lisa Brown said. She spoke to Reuters by phone but said she could not yet provide more details.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared a “disaster emergency” for 15 counties, including Adair and Adams, allowing state resources to be readily utilized in responding to the storm.

Also in Adams County, at least three wind turbines standing about 25 stories high were nearly snapped in half, with one catching fire, KCCI reported. It said several other wind turbines were damaged in Adair County.

The National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm advisories for much of Iowa and several other Midwestern states on Tuesday, including parts of Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Earlier in the day, the weather service confirmed at least one tornado over Rollingstone, Minnesota.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado, and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sonali Paul)