A tornado touched down just west of Cedar Rapids around 5 o’clock Wednesday afternoon, doing extensive damage to two farms between the towns of Van Horne and Newhall. Scott Hanson, Benton County’s emergency management coordinator, says a couple of pigs were killed, but no people.

“The first farmstead it hit, took the roof and walls off of a very large hog confinement facility, fairly new and pretty much destroyed it, Hansen says. “Took a couple grain bins out at that facility also, but the house was okay. No one was home. No one was injured. There were only 80 pigs left in that facility. He had just sold a bunch off.”

A second farm, about a quarter-mile to the east, was also hit by the twister. The roof was ripped off a barn and some outbuildings were flattened, but again, the house was untouched and no one was hurt. Hansen says he’s encouraged by the community spirit in southern Benton County, as dozens of people pitched in to corral the pigs and lend a hand with the wreckage.

“The nice thing about Iowa is, even by the time I got there about 40 minutes after it happened, both farmsteads had probably 30-40 people there helping them out. The pigs were being loaded on the trailer and moved to another facility,” he says.

A little over a month ago, a massive mile-wide tornado struck about 50 miles to the northwest. That twister leveled hundreds of homes in towns including Parkersburg and New Hartford — and killed eight people. With that tornado still fresh in mind, Hansen says his county’s very lucky.

“We weren’t even in any kind of a weather watch,” he says, “just one of those storms that happened to get a little rotation in it. It wasn’t a day anybody was really expecting anything severe. Thankfully it was small and thankfully it didn’t last very long, and even though it had to do damage, at least it left the homes alone and didn’t injure anyone.”

The state climatologist says Iowa’s already recorded between 65 and 70 tornadoes this year, well above the average of around 48 a year.