At least one person was killed last night in the eastern Iowa town of Nichols after a tornado struck the Iowa City area. A second tornado is confirmed hitting Muscatine.
Classes are cancelled at the University of Iowa as major structural damage is reported in and around campus. One unidentified man was trapped inside a farm outbuilding in the Benton County town Van Horne, just east of Cedar Rapids. The man says he managed to get out with only a few scratches after the shed was demolished around him. The man says “I can’t even explain it. When the wind was blowing so hard and it was picking up pieces of the building after it was down and I could see them blowing away I didn’t know if it was a tornado or what. I was afraid I’d be lifted up with all the debris and scattered a quarter-mile down the road.”
A home improvement store in Iowa City was heavily damaged in the severe storm. This unidentified man was inside the Menard’s when the harsh winds hit. He says “The roof started banging and then the wind was rushing through the store and they told us to get to the middle of the store and pieces of the roof were getting ripped off. It happened really fast.”
Another unidentified woman was also in the Menards when the roof came off. She says someone was shouting “Everybody get to the middle and then the lights went out and you couldn’t see and we just all went down to the ground and people were tripping over people and it was really scary.”
KCRG-TV reporter Claire Kellett filed a report from downtown Iowa City last night, as University of Iowa staff and students milled around, surveying the damage. Kellett says police were trying to direct traffic but it appeared the entire university was out walking around. Street signs are bent are in the roads, there’s debris everywhere while the roof of St. Patrick’s church is “completely gone” and fire crews were trying to evacuate people from the stairwell of a parking garage.