Troopers at the Iowa State Patrol office in Cedar Falls are operating with limited communication services after lightning hit the ground near the dispatch center Thursday. Service calls are being handled by sheriff offices in the district’s six counties. Trooper John Baber says while communication services will be out for an undetermined amount of time, public phone lines, including 9-1-1, are operating properly.
Baber says the lightening strike hit just west of the building and followed the phone lines through the building into the communications center. He say people in the building said it sounded like "a gunshot went off." Cedar Falls firefighters were called to the post as severe thunderstorms rolled through the area. Baber confirms one of the patrol’s dispatchers, Rick Mortenson of Janesville, suffered possible electric shock.
An ambulance was called and Mortenson was taken to the hospital for observation. He’s expected to be released later today. The National Weather Service issued two tornado warnings for Black Hawk County Thursday afternoon. In addition to heavy rain and high winds, the storms produced nickle-sized hail in Cedar Falls and spawned a small tornado that touched down briefly southeast of Waterloo.