UPDATE: Major damage left behind as tornadoes blitz central Iowa

Marshalltown may have been hardest hit.

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 4:25 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 7:58 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A flurry of tornadoes swept through central Iowa Thursday afternoon, flattening buildings and damaging the courthouse in Marshalltown and hitting an agricultural machinery plant in Pella as people were working. Authorities said a hospital was evacuated and there were some injuries from the storms, but no reports of deaths.

Hardest hit appeared to be Marshalltown , a city of 27,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Des Moines, where brick walls collapsed in the streets, roofs were blown off buildings and the cupola of the historic courthouse tumbled 175 feet (53 meters) to the ground.

UnityPoint Health hospital in Marshalltown was damaged, spokeswoman Amy Varcoe said.

Varcoe said all 40 of its patients were being transferred to the health system's hospitals in Waterloo and Grundy Center.

The Marshalltown hospital's emergency room remained open to treat patients injured in the storm, Varcoe said. Ten people injured in the storm had been treated by 7 p.m. Thursday, she said. She did not know how serious those patients' injuries were.

Marshalltown resident Stephanie Moz said she, her husband and 2-month-old baby were in the downtown clothing store she owns when tornado sirens went off. The family sought shelter in the building's basement and heard "cracking and booms and explosions" as the tornado passed.

The storm broke out a window, ruining clothing and hats on display there, and destroyed her husband's vehicle, but she said she's relieved.

"We went through a tornado and survived," Moz said. "I'm happy."

Iowa State Rep. Mark Smith, who lives in Marshalltown, told Des Moines station KCCI-TV that the area likely will be declared a disaster area. Smith said his house and neighborhood were not damaged, but much of downtown and surrounding homes have been.

"There are houses with windows out, houses without roofs," he said. "It's just an absolute mess."

Another tornado hit agricultural machinery maker Vermeer Manufacturing, where some people were still working, in the town of Pella, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines. It scattered huge sheets of metal through a parking lot and left one building with a huge hole in it.

Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy said seven people injured at the Vermeer plant were treated at the hospital. All had minor injuries and were released after treatment, Rhamy said.

Weather forecasters said the tornadoes formed suddenly and took them by surprise.

Alex Krull, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said that forecasting models produced Thursday morning showed only a slight chance of strong thunderstorms later in the day.

"This morning, it didn't look like tornadic supercells were possible," Krull said. "If anything, we were expecting we could get some large hail, if strong storms developed

Additional funnels were reported as the storm moved east of Des Moines past Altoona, Prairie City and Colfax.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 133802

Reported Deaths: 2402
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Ramsey14073360
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St. Louis296569
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Beltrami8917
Otter Tail8627
Todd8055
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Itasca72717
Morrison7269
Douglas6963
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Watonwan5784
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Stevens1821
Aitkin1792
Koochiching1694
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Big Stone1380
Wilkin1344
Lac qui Parle1333
Marshall1211
Lake1190
Norman1150
Mahnomen1132
Clearwater1110
Grant984
Red Lake782
Traverse560
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Kittson400
Cook160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115574

Reported Deaths: 1621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18874288
Woodbury718394
Johnson584430
Black Hawk557498
Linn5513129
Dubuque518657
Scott454138
Story398918
Dallas344344
Pottawattamie323544
Sioux242516
Buena Vista225512
Marshall201436
Webster183015
Plymouth165727
Wapello152562
Clinton148326
Muscatine144258
Des Moines138610
Cerro Gordo136225
Crawford135514
Warren12477
Carroll114512
Jasper109634
Henry10545
Marion100710
Lee95410
Tama94437
Delaware77812
Dickinson7347
Wright7191
Boone7179
Mahaska68724
Bremer6719
Harrison65311
Washington65311
Jackson6283
Benton5812
Lyon5497
Clay5284
Louisa52115
Winnebago48719
Hardin4757
Winneshiek4749
Hamilton4684
Kossuth4660
Cedar4605
Poweshiek45611
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Jones4444
Floyd43311
Emmet42917
Clayton4193
Iowa4059
Cherokee4022
Page3990
Mills3971
Sac3974
Guthrie39115
Cass3883
Franklin38018
Butler3782
Fayette3744
Shelby3721
Allamakee3638
Madison3603
Chickasaw3561
Clarke3493
Humboldt3233
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Osceola2791
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Monroe25911
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Jefferson2381
Taylor2362
Union2324
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Lucas2016
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