WINTERSET, Iowa (NewsNation) — Seven people were killed, including two children, when several tornadoes swept through central Iowa, destroying homes and knocking down trees and power lines in the state’s deadliest storm in more than a decade, authorities said.
Emergency management officials in Madison County said four were injured and six people were killed Saturday when one tornado touched down in the area southwest of Des Moines near the town of Winterset around 4:30 p.m. Among those killed were two children under the age of five and four adults.
In Lucas County, about 54 miles southeast of Des Moines, officials confirmed one death and multiple reported injuries when a separate tornado struck less than an hour later.
The state Department of Natural Resources said that person who died was in an RV at a campground at Red Haw State Park in Chariton, Iowa.
Don and Theresa Houg described the terrifying moment the tornado came ravaging through their path, all within 30 seconds.
“We have real tall pine trees in the front yard. I peeked around the door and the pine trees just disappeared, and about that time all the windows started busting out, within a minute it was over,” Don said.
The couple is one of the lucky survivors. Many of their neighbors’ lives were taken.
“I just can’t believe it happened and it shouldn’t happen, but it does,” Houg said.
Officials reported a number of homes were damaged or destroyed, roads were blocked by downed lines and tree branches were shredded by the strong winds. At one point, power outages affected more than 10,000 in the Des Moines area. About 800 customers remained without power Sunday evening.
More than 500 volunteers came out Sunday all across the Iowa and further to show their support and help cleanup.
In Arkansas, cleanup continues.
“So far we’ve identified about 20 to 30 structures with that damage. We’ve had two minor reports of injuries, nothing significant. We have numerous trees and power lines down,” Pope County Judge Ben Cross said.
President Joe Biden on Sunday reached out Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and directed the leaders of the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to remain in close contact with state and local officials as they assessed damage and determined what federal assistance was needed, the White House said in a statement.
The storms are the deadliest to occur in Iowa since May 2008 when one tornado destroyed nearly 300 homes and killed nine people in the northern Iowa city of Parkersburg. Another tornado a month later killed four boys at the Little Sioux Boy Scout ranch in western Iowa.