WINTERSET, Iowa (NewsNation) — Stacie Carter, 51, is still in shock. Just two days ago, a tornado swept through her home near the central Iowa town of Winterset — and in a matter of 30 seconds, she lost nearly everything she had.
“I could see the tornado crossing over the highway, that’s all I could see. It was huge and I was, like, ‘Oh my God, that just hit my family,'” Carter said.
Carter’s husband and 17-year-old daughter survived but their 11-month-old puppy, Bosco, did not — the family found him lifeless on the ground just 40 feet from their home.
Other neighbors were not as lucky. In all, multiple tornadoes killed seven people, six of whom lived on the same street near Winterset, a town southwest of Des Moines in Madison County. Two of the victims were children,
“My husband called and said ‘You need to get home right away — it’s passed, but we’ve been hit, everything is gone,'” Carter said.
For survivors including Stacie Carter, the community has come together, organizing cleanups and helping pick up the pieces of what remains.
“When the Red Cross can’t do anything for you because it’s already been handled, you live in the right place,” Carter said.
This was not Carter’s first tornado experience. She bought her home, in part, because she thought it was safe from tornadoes, away from the usual storm path. Now, that sense of security has been shaken and Carter said she no longer feels safe.
“Nobody’s safe. I don’t believe that anymore. It [the tornado] will go where it wants to go,” she said.
Saturday’s tornado near Winterset was an EF-4, according to the Des Moines National Weather Service office. At its peak, the twister had winds up to 170 MPH and was 800 yards wide at some points.
Officials have identified the six people who were killed in Madison County.
Their names are: Melissa Bazley, 63; Rodney Clark, 64; Cecilia Lloyd, 72; Michael Bolger, 37; Kenley Bolger, 5; and Owen Bolger, 2. The victims came from three households.
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.
State officials said the person who died was in an RV at a campground at Red Haw State Park in Chariton, Iowa.
Lucas County officials have yet to identify the person who died there Sunday afternoon.
The tornadoes are the deadliest to hit Iowa since 2008, when one tornado destroyed nearly 300 homes and killed nine people near Parkersburg. That same year, another tornado killed four boys at the Little Sioux Boy Scout ranch in western Iowa.