Tree on destroyed house in Parkersburg. The death toll from Sunday’s tornado has risen to seven. A person died Monday night at a hospital in Waterloo. Fifty others were injured in the tornado; one remains in critical condition in a hospital.

Last night flooding struck the Manchester area and this morning Governor Culver has declared Delaware County a disaster area. Also this morning, President Bush signed a declaration granting individual assistance to residents in Butler County.

The governor released the latest tally of damage this morning, indicating more than 350 homes were destroyed by Sunday’s tornado which struck Parkersburg, New Hartford, Hazelton and rural areas in a four county area. Another 100 homes have “extensive” damage according to Culver. “Another problem in Buchanan County that we’re dealing with, they’re having significant flooding in the town of Lamont,” Culver says, “and 240 of the 280 homes are affected by the flooding there.”

Parkersburg was the hardest hit area, and a curfew will remain in effect as the governor says it’s a dangerous place to be right now. “You have a lot of debris, obviously, that people are sorting through. Included in that debris can be things like propane tanks and other hazardous materials so we really want people to be very careful and we want to protect the general public from any additional injuries or deaths,” Culver says.

Culver’s advising those who’re working to clear through the debris to make sure their tetanus shots are updated, as some folks stepped on nails and suffered other puncture wounds yesterday. Culver says another reason they’re enforcing a curfew is because they want to give tornado victims time to sort through their belongings as privately as possible. State officials are trying to secure storage space for those who’ve lost their homes, but are recovering some scattered belongings. A clearinghouse is being established to give volunteers a place to check-in via phone or computer and be dispatched to help in clean-up efforts. David Miller, head of Iowa Emergency Management, says over 40 people stayed overnight in a temporary shelter in the middle school in Aplington. “We have a lot of devastation in the area,” Miller says. “It’s widespread.”

In addition to the federal assistance that’s now available to individuals in Butler County to cover uninsured losses, there is a state grant of up to $3300 that’s exclusively for low income storm victims to help replace items that aren’t covered by insurance, things like food or personal belongings or rent for a temporary home. “It really is meant just to get people back on their feet and cover some minimal losses,” Miller says.

A toll-free phone number will be established later today for tornado victims to call and make application for federal assistance.  “The first thing people should do is contact their insurance company. Don’t think that either the state or the federal program should take the place of that because you should contact your own insurance company first,” says Dick Hainje of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “and then go ahead and make the contact with FEMA.”

Disaster recovery centers will be established later today in the four counties hit by the tornado. The governor says state and federal officials hope to set up town meetings as well to discuss the recovery effort. Electricity should be restored to the northern part of Parkersburg soon and the National Guard is transporting a 10,000 gallon tanker of drinking water to the town. The governor has dispatched 165 National Guard troops to help tornado victims. Over 50 state troopers have been on the scene since Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Fisher)

AUDIO: Governor holds briefing on tornado (mp3 runs 28 min)