For the second time in less than a week, a tornado caused widespread destruction as it struck a small Iowa town early this morning, this time in south-central Iowa. One person was critically injured, as many as ten others hurt, when a tornado hit the town of Attica, a few miles southeast of Knoxville.
Reporter Bob Leonard, with Radio Iowa affiliate K-N-I-A in Knoxville, is on the scene and says the damage is extensive: "Houses blown away, porches, garages just disappearing. One double-wide being picked up and deposited into a nearby pond. Remarkably, we have an estimate of seven to ten injured persons. We don’t know their status right now, and miraculously, no deaths."
The Marion County Sheriff’s office says State Highway 5 is now closed between Knoxville and the Monroe County line due to downed power lines and debris.
Leonard says it’s difficult to spot any homes or businesses in Attica that were -not- impacted by the tornado and the storm’s extremely high winds. He says perhaps 20 or 30 homes were badly damaged, while one trailer was rolled over, another double-wide is gone. "One very nice large house crumpled like matchsticks," he says, with "wires down everywhere." The Indiana Township Fire Department building was destroyed.
Leonard estimates up to 70-percent of the homes in Attica were damaged, with damage reports also coming in from the nearby communities of Tracy and Bussey.
Just six days ago, northeast Iowa was struck by a mile-wide tornado that killed seven people, injured dozens and destroyed more than 220 homes, including about half the town of Parkersburg.
Leonard says some of the houses in Attica resemble those he’s seen in pictures from this week’s earlier tornado. "The damage to individual homes is that severe, but not to the extent. In fact, one of the things I keep hearing when I talk to the residents of Attica is, ‘Thank God it’s not Parkersburg.’"
There are reports of more tornadoes overnight as well, striking near Adel in Dallas County, Turin in Monona County, and near Murray in Clarke County. Power outages are reported in at least 30 Iowa cities, while lightning is suspected of sparking a house fire this morning in Ames.