Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Tornado hits factory in Iowa; some injuries reported

Tornado hits factory in Iowa; some injuries reported

One reported tornado hit a company in Pella town, about 40 miles from Des Moines, sending at least seven people from Vermeer Corporation to hospital with injuries.

The storm carried east of Des Moines past Altoona, Prairie City and Colfax.

There are warnings of multiple casualties with one weather spotter from the National Weather Service reporting "catastrophic damage, including vehicles missing, vehicles overturned, and roofs of buildings gone". There were 400 additional customers on-site for an appreciation celebration of Vermeer's 70th anniversary, but only seven with injuries were reported at Pella Regional Health Center as of Thursday evening.

The factory, which has about 2,800 employees manufacturing industrial and agricultural equipment, was hit by a tornado around 4 p.m.

The CEO of Racom said all operations are up and running, even though the building looks to be damaged. They were later released after suffering minor injuries, police said.

At least 10 people were treated at UnityPoint Health in Marshalltown after a tornado struck the area, about an hour northeast of Des Moines. Sporrer said officials were assessing the damage.

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A woman working at Hammer Medical Supply in the city's downtown said her building suffered damage, as did nearby buildings including The Orpheum, a theater built in 1948.

Many businesses have closed Friday. Ten people hurt in the storm had been treated, she said. Smith said much of downtown was damaged.

The City of Marshalltown has declared a state of emergency and said a curfew will go into effect at 9 p.m. Thursday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rod Donavon said two primary storms spawned the series of damaging tornadoes.

Reynolds says the relatively small number of injuries is unbelievable, concerning Vermeer Industries in Pella was having a customer appreciation event at the time the tornado hit its facilities. He said his house and neighborhood were spared, but surrounding homes were hit. She credited the company's security team with moving them all to safety.

The exact number of tornadoes and their strength hasn't been determined. "It's just an absolute mess".

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