Iowa – Seven people, including two children, were killed when tornadoes ripped through central Iowa, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines in the state’s deadliest storm in more than a decade, officials said.
Four other people were injured and six people were killed Saturday when a tornado touched down in an area southwest of Des Moines near the town of Winterset at about 4:30 p.m., according to Madison County emergency workers. Among the dead were two children under the age of five and four adults.
In Lucas County, about 54 miles (87 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines, authorities confirmed one death and several injuries from another tornado less than an hour later.RELATED
The state Department of Natural Resources said the person who died was in a mobile home at a campground in Red Haw State Park in Chariton, Iowa.
Tornado-spawning storms swept across much of Iowa late into the night Saturday, wreaking havoc in Norwalk, a suburb of Des Moines, areas east of Des Moines and other parts of eastern Iowa. storms was warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Authorities reported that several homes were damaged, some roads were blocked by downed power lines, and numerous branches lay on the ground after being uprooted by strong winds. At one point, about 10,000 people lost power in the Des Moines area.
The storms are the deadliest to hit Iowa since May 2008, when a tornado destroyed nearly 300 homes and killed nine people in the upstate city of Parkersburg. Another tornado a month later left four boys dead on the Little Sioux Boy Scout ranch in western Iowa.
The National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted Sunday morning that at least three storms were accompanied by tornadoes, but “we don’t know at this time how many tornadoes there were.”
Between 25 and 30 homes suffered significant damage, said Madison County Emergency Management Director Diogenes Ayala.
“This is the worst anyone has seen in a long time,” he said.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has issued a disaster declaration for Madison County.
Wendy Burkett told the Des Moines Register that she was home with two of her three daughters Saturday afternoon when her husband, Tony, called from a nearby shed where he was working to alert her to the tornado warning.
Burkett said that she had come out to meet him outside the house and they had looked to the southwest. “And then we saw it, the tornado,” she said. “There was debris flying and it was getting louder and louder.”
The family ran with their daughters to the basement with the tornado fast approaching. As they hugged, a window broke outside and water began to come out of the pipes, she said.
The first photos and videos of the damage in the town of Winterset indicated that it was a tornado of at least category EF-3 — capable of causing serious damage — on the Fujita scale, the National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted.
Winds from a Category EF-3 tornado can reach speeds of 130 miles.