Iowa crews search for survivors after deadly tornadoes


By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – Rescue teams in Iowa searched through the ruins of homes and buildings in Greenfield on Wednesday, looking for survivors of a deadly tornado that tore through the town the day before.

Authorities were still determining how many people were killed, injured and displaced by the twister in the farming town of 2,000 located about 60 miles (97 km) west of Des Moines, Sergeant Alex Dinkla, a spokesperson with the Iowa State Patrol, told a news conference.

“It is still a search mission as far as we are looking to make sure all residents are accounted for,” he said. “When we have this many homes that have been destroyed, fully demolished, we want to make sure every person is accounted for.”

Images from Greenfield showed a path of utter destruction, with homes reduced to splinters, debris strewn everywhere and several large wind turbines toppled.

“It’s horrific. It’s hard to describe,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who declared a disaster emergency for 15 counties.

The twister that touched down in Greenfield was among a swarm of tornadoes that were reported in southwestern Iowa on Tuesday evening. At least one person, a woman in nearby Adams County, was killed in the storms, the county’s medical examiner said.

Reynolds said state officials were working to send a request for President Joe Biden to approve a disaster declaration in order to get federal assistance for state residents.

Among the buildings damaged in Greenfield was a hospital, forcing authorities to create a makeshift medical care center at the lumberyard and send some of the injured to other area facilities.

State Representative Ray Sorensen said several residents used their own vehicles to transport those who were injured to safety moments after the storm struck.

“We pulled a guy from the rubble and put him on a little makeshift stretcher we made and threw him in the back of a truck,” he said.

Tornadoes along with severe storms packing large hail and damaging winds were likely again on Wednesday across the Southern Plains as well as Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, the National Weather Service warned.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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