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US: Multiple casualties reported as tornado wreaks havoc in Iowa, small town reduced to rubble | VIDEO

A severe tornado in Iowa, which was already bracing for weather turbulences, touched down on Tuesday and destroyed homes and wind turbines. Several people were injured and had to be moved to facilities in nearby towns as the local hospital sustained damage during the storm.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee DES MOINES Updated on: May 22, 2024 15:10 IST
Iowa tornado, property damage
Image Source : REUTERS A woman consoling his brother after the tornado destroyed his home in Iowa.

Iowa: A powerful tornado ripped through a small town in Iowa on Tuesday, killing multiple people and leaving at least a dozen people injured, according to authorities. Sgt Alex Dinkla, a spokesperson with the Iowa State Patrol, confirmed multiple casualties and said the tornado devastated a good portion of Greenfield town, although the exact figures of the deceased were not known.

Images from the town of Greenfield show a path of utter destruction, with homes reduced to splinters, debris strewn everywhere and several large wind turbines toppled. At least a dozen people in the Iowa town of 2,000 people, were injured due to the tornado. People had to be transferred to facilities in nearby towns as the local hospital sustained damage in the storm.

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. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared a "disaster emergency" for 15 counties, allowing state resources to be readily utilized in responding to the storm.

Watch the video of the tornado:

Authorities said they would only allow residents to enter Greenfield until Wednesday morning and ordered media representatives to leave the city on Tuesday night. Mounds of broken wood, branches, car parts and other debris littered lots where homes once stood. Cars lay busted and bent while damaged houses sat skewed against the grey and overcast sky.

"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, told KCCI TV in an interview, standing near some of the demolished dwellings. "It was scary, very scary." 

Multiple tornadoes were reported throughout the state. At least three wind turbines standing about 25 stories high were nearly snapped in half, with one catching fire. 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.

Wind farms are built to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes and other powerful winds. According to the US Department of Energy, turbines are designed to shut off when winds exceed certain thresholds, typically around 55 mph (88.5 kph). They also lock and feather their blades, and turn into the wind, to minimise the strain.

Greenfield prides itself on being a town where business owners know your name and neighbours help neighbours, according to its visitors' page. “There's a pretty significant roof damage to several houses that I know will need whole new roofs," Camille Blair said of the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce. "I can see from my house it kind of went in a straight line down the road.”

Iowa on alert for severe weather

Iowa was already braced for severe weather after the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Centre gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. The storms and tornado warnings moved into Wisconsin Tuesday evening and night, including a warning for the state's capital city of Madison.

The storms followed days of extreme weather that have ravaged much of the middle section of the country. Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas late Sunday, damaging homes and injuring two in Oklahoma. Another round of storms on Monday night raked Colorado and western Nebraska, covering Colorado's Yuma city into a blanket of hail.

Tuesday's storms were expected to bring much of the same high winds, heavy rain and large hail to Minnesota and part of northern Missouri, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service. He said the system is expected to turn south on Wednesday, bringing more severe weather to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri. 

(with inputs from agencies)

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