The Iowa Department of Public Safety now says there are six confirmed dead following the tornadoes that struck northeast Iowa. DPS spokesman Jim Saunders, speaking at a news conference in Parkersburg, says there is still one person missing.
Saunders says rescuers will do another search of the homes today. He says they will go house-by-house through town and mark the homes so that people know the area has been searched. Saunders says the Iowa National Guard is helping state and local officials in the effort.
Saunders says they have enough heavy equipment to help move debris, and he says while there are a lot of people who want to help out and volunteer, the situation is such that they want to limit the number of people on the scene. Saunders says there’s a number for people to tall to get information. He says you can call 319-267-9111 to find out about missing loved ones from the area.
Parkersburg Mayor Robert Haylock says it’s hard to describe the devastation of the storm. Haylock says he doesn’t have the exact number of homes that were destroyed, but says it will be “staggering” and almost one-third of the town. Haylock says residents of the town had ample warning.
Haylock says the sirens all went off well in advance, and says that was key as without the early warning, there would have been “a tremendous amount of injuries and loss of life.” In fact, Haylock says all of the people who died were adults, and most had sought shelter.
“Most of them were in basements, house fell in on ’em,” Haylock says. Haylock says the amount of devastation hasn’t set in yet. Haylock says, “I don’t really think so, we’ve been too busy.” Haylock has been mayor of Parkersburg for six years and prior to that was on the town council beginning in 1973. Four of the deaths came in Parkersburg, and there were two in New Hartford.
By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City