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Tornadoes hit Iowa causing multiple deaths

Multiple people died Tuesday and at least a dozen were injured when a powerful tornado tore through a small Iowa town, carving a bleak landscape of destroyed homes and businesses, shredded trees, smashed cars, and widely strewn debris.

Twister in the small town of Greenfield destroyed homes, shredded trees and smashed cars

People examine damage after a tornado moved through Greenfield, Iowa.

Multiple people died Tuesday and at least a dozen were injured when a powerful tornado tore through a small Iowa town, carving a bleak landscape of destroyed homes and businesses, shredded trees, smashed cars, and widely strewn debris.

The tornado destroyed much of Greenfield, a town of about 2,000 nearly 90 kilometres southwest of the state capital of Des Moines, during a day that saw multiple tornadoes, giant hail and heavy rain in several states.

"We do have confirmed fatalities," Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla said at a news conference Tuesday night. He said authorities were still determining the total number but thought they had accounted for all of the town's residents.

Dinkla said there were at least a dozen injuries amid widespread devastation in Greenfield, including at the community's small hospital. Patients there had to be transferred to other facilities in nearby cities.

Authorities said they would only allow residents to enter Greenfield until Wednesday morning and ordered media representatives to leave the city Tuesday night.

A damaged home is seen in Greenfield, Iowa, after a tornado moved through on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

In the aftermath of the storm, parts of Greenfield appeared devastated. 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.

Trees stood — barely — bereft of branches or leaves.

Some homes barely left standing

Residents helped each other salvage furniture and other belongings from mounds of debris or from homes barely left standing.

Rogue Paxton said he sheltered in the basement of his home when the storm moved through. He told WOI-TV he thought the house was lost but said his family got lucky.

A tornado-damaged wind turbine is seen near Prescott, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

"But everyone else is not so much, like my brother Cody, his house just got wiped," Paxton said.

"Then you see all these people out here helping each other. … Everything's going to be fine because we have each other, but it's just going to be really, really rough. It is a mess."

Multiple tornadoes were reported throughout the state, and one also apparently took down several 76-metre wind turbines. Des Moines, Iowa, television station KCCI-TV showed at least three wind turbines that were toppled by an apparent tornado in southwest Iowa, and at least one was in flames with black smoke pluming from the bent structure.

People are seen examining the damage done by a tornado that moved through Greenfield, Iowa on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

Mary Long, the owner of Long's Market in downtown Greenfield, rode out the storm at her business in the community's historic town square, which largely escaped damage. Long said there appeared to be widespread damage on the east and south sides of town.

"I could hear this roaring, like the proverbial freight train, and then it was just done," she said.

Camille Blair said the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce office where she works closed around 2 p.m. local time ahead of the storm. She emerged from her home to describe widespread damage and scattered debris.

"There's a pretty significant roof damage to several houses that I know will need whole new roofs," she said. "And I can see from my house it kind of went in a straight line down the road."

A view of just some of the damage a tornado did in Greenfield, Iowa on Tuesday.

More tornadoes elsewhere in state

In far southwestern Iowa, video posted to social media showed a tornado just northwest of Red Oak. Further east and north, the U.S. National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings for areas near the towns of Griswold, Corning, Fontanelle and Guthrie Center, among others.

Iowa was already braced for severe weather after the weather service's storm prediction centre gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. Des Moines public schools ended classes two hours early and cancelled all evening activities ahead of the storms.

A man sorts through the remains of a tornado-damaged home, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Greenfield, Iowa.

The storms and tornado warnings moved into Wisconsin Tuesday evening and night, including a warning for the state's capital city of Madison.

Earlier in the day, residents to the west in Omaha, Neb., awoke to weather sirens blaring and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pummeled the area. The deluge flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters arriving to rescue people from vehicles.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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