Search and rescue underway after tornado hits Iowa; at least 1 dead


Iowa authorities continued search and rescue efforts Wednesday, a day after a deadly tornado hit the state, killing at least one person.

The Adams County Sheriff's Office said a woman died Tuesday when her vehicle ran off the road during storms about three miles north of Corning, Iowa, or about 30 miles southwest of Greenfield, where the tornado left a wide swath of destroyed and vandalized houses. cars.

The woman, whose name and age were not immediately released, was the sole occupant of the vehicle. Authorities did not reveal other numbers of deaths and injuries.

The tornado that tore through Greenfield also twisted and toppled wind turbines on the outskirts of the town of 2,000 people.

After devastating Greenfield, the storms moved east toward Illinois and Wisconsin, leaving tens of thousands of customers without power.

The United States is experiencing a historically bad tornado season as climate change is increasing the severity of storms around the world. April had the second highest number of tornadoes on record in the United States.

As of Tuesday, there have been 27% more tornadoes in the country than average. This year's preliminary count of 859 is the highest since 2017 and is significantly higher than the average of 676 through May 21, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Nearly 700 of the tornadoes have occurred in April and May.

Iowa has had the most tornadoes this year with 81, followed by Texas with 74 and Kansas and Ohio with 66 each.

The Greenfield hospital was damaged, meaning at least a dozen injured people had to be taken elsewhere, according to Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm that there have been fatalities,” Dinkla said at a news conference Tuesday night, without specifying how many. “We're still counting right now.”

Dinkla said he believed they had accounted for all the city's residents, but that searches would continue if anyone was reported missing. Adair County Health System said in a Facebook post Tuesday night that it had set up a triage center at Greenfield High School and that people needing medical care should go there.

The tornado destroyed much of Greenfield, about 55 miles southwest of Des Moines, during a day that saw multiple tornadoes, giant hail and heavy rain across several states. The National Weather Service said it received 23 reports of tornadoes on Tuesday, most in Iowa, one in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota.

On Facebook, people as far as 100 miles from Greenfield posted photos of uprooted families, check stubs, damp yearbook pages and other items carried from the city by the tornado.

Authorities announced a mandatory curfew for Greenfield and said they would only allow residents into the city. They also ordered media representatives to leave the city on Tuesday night.

After the storm, piles of broken wood from houses, branches, car parts and other debris littered the lots where homes once stood. Some trees that were still standing were stripped of branches and leaves. Residents helped each other rescue furniture and other belongings that were scattered in all directions.

Rogue Paxton said he took shelter in the basement of his home when the storm passed. She told WOI-TV that she thought the house was lost, but she said her family was lucky.

“But everyone else isn't so much, like my brother Cody. His house just got razed,” Paxton said. “Then you see all these people here helping each other. …Everything is going to be okay because we have each other, but it's going to be very, very hard. It is a disaster.”

A tornado also reportedly toppled several 250-foot wind turbines in southwest Iowa. Some of the turbines caught fire, sending plumes of smoke into the air.

Camille Blair said the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce office where she works closed around 2 p.m. before the storm.

“I can see from my house that it was going straight down the road,” he said of the tornado.

Iowa had braced for severe weather after the weather service's Storm Prediction Center gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. Storm and tornado warnings reached Wisconsin Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Earlier in the day in Nebraska, residents west of Omaha woke up to blaring sirens and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pounded the area. The flood flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters rescuing people from vehicles.

In Illinois, dust storms led authorities to close stretches of two interstate highways due to low visibility.

Associated Press writer Fingerhut reported from Greenfield, McFetridge from Des Moines and Beck reported from Omaha. Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis, Josh Funk in Omaha, Colleen Slevin in Denver and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.

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