Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Tornadoes: Minnesota and Iowa

The probable tornado that destroyed dozens of houses and killed a toddler in Hugo Minnesota had company.

Things were worse in Iowa, where six people were killed. Yesterday's count was seven, but after pieces of the town stopped falling out of the sky they were able to do a "better accounting." A broadcast recording of an interview with a town official had him saying, "we found the guy we were looking for."

Something not mentioned in online news, but which I've heard in broadcast interviews with Iowa officials, is that many of the people who survived don't have jobs any more. The businesses where they worked - or which they owned - aren't there any more.

I think the death toll in both states would have been higher, except we generally have basements in this part of the country, you'll see warning sirens on power poles in many towns, and we've got a system that includes volunteer spotters who deploy when weather conditions are right - or wrong.

My family hasn't heard anything from our kinfolk who live near Hugo: so I'm assuming that they're okay, apart from some cleanup.

The prayers of this family are with people who lost their lives, or loved ones, in these storms.

Assistance and volunteer contacts:
  • Hugo, Minnesota:
    • "Food donations for volunteers and rescue workers can be brought to the Hugo Fire Department.
    • "Hugo Fire Department
      5323 140th St N
      Hugo, MN 55038
    • "American Red Cross
      Financial Donation Hotline: 612-460-3700
    • "To help volunteer with the cleanup, call Hugo City Hall:
  • Parkersberg and New Hartford:
I may update this list if I get more information. At this time, I couldn't find any articles about the tornado in the Butler County papers, but it's early days. They will probably have detail when this week's issues come out. (Thanks to MadameX, on a BlogCatalog discussion thread, for the Iowa newspaper link.)

  • "Hugo awakes to tragedy" (May 26, 2008)
    • "HUGO, Minn. (AP) - As a storm roared over his head, shaking his house and scattering his family's belongings, all Jason Akins could do was put his arms over his wife, two sons and two neighbor kids and hope for the best.
    • " 'I was worried something was going to fall on us,' said Akins, a Hugo resident who went in a matter of seconds from enjoying a carefree Sunday barbecue to holding on for dear life in his basement.
    • "Akins' house was severely damaged when thunderstorms packing large hail and a possible tornado swept through this small St. Paul suburb, killing at least one person and destroying dozens of other homes during a devastating rampage through the north metro area.
    • "A 2-year-old girl1 was killed and the child's sibling was critically injured, Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton said. The children's parents also were hospitalized. At least five other people were injured and taken to hospitals."
  • "Financial Food donations for storm victims and rescue volunteers" (May 26, 2008)
    • "Food donations for volunteers and rescue workers can be brought to the Hugo Fire Department.
    • "Hugo Fire Department
      5323 140th St N
      Hugo, MN 55038
    • "American Red Cross
      Financial Donation Hotline: 612-460-3700
    • "To help volunteer with the cleanup, call Hugo City Hall:
  • "Update: At least 67 treated at area hospitals"
    Des Moines Register (May 26, 2008)
    • "Parkersburg, Ia. – At least 67 people were injured Sunday when a mile-wide tornado tore through four communities, reducing large sections of the towns to rubble.
    • "Six people were killed in the tornado. At least four people are in critical condition in area hospitals and dozens others were treated...."
    • "Residents of Parkersburg are being allowed inside. Officers are checking driver’s licenses and are keeping a log of everyone coming in. Capt. Curt Henderson with Iowa State Patrol said the only route officials are allowing incoming traffic through is from Iowa Highway 14.
    • "Apparently there was some looting Sunday night, state troopers said.
    • "No volunteer help is being accepted, they said.
    • "Troopers this morning handed Parkersburg residents a note that says the town will close at about 8 p.m. tonight. No water, electricity or sanitary sewers are available in town today.
    • " 'We ask for your cooperation during these difficult times. Together we will rebuild!' the note says....
    • "The tornado ripped off the roof of the high school in Parkersburg and tore out sections of the building, said school Superintendent Jon Thompson.
    • "The high school will never be used again, he said."
  • "Lethal storms kill 8 in Iowa and Minnesota"
    • Associated Press (May 26, 2008)
    • "DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Powerful storms packing large hail, heavy rain and tornadoes made for a deadly Memorial Day weekend across the nation's midsection, killing at least seven people in Iowa and a 2-year-old child in Minnesota.
    • "Iowa Homeland Security administrator Dave Miller said seven people were killed Sunday by a tornado in northeast Iowa — five from Parkersburg, a town of about 1,000 some 80 miles northeast of Des Moines — and two from nearby New Hartford. At least 50 injuries were reported.
    • " 'Occasionally we have a death but we have warning system. Seven deaths. It's been a long time since we've had those kinds of injuries and deaths reported,' Miller said...."
  • "Parkersburg mayor: Deadly tornado leveled one-third of town"
    KGAN (May 26, 2008)
    • "DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Crews were beginning to search Monday morning through the rubble left by a tornado that tore through the small northeast Iowa town of Parkersburg, killing six people.
    • "Mayor Bob Haylock said the Sunday afternoon tornado destroyed about one-third of Parkersburg, a town of about 1,000 people. The number of dead and injured would have been higher if not for warning sirens that sounded early enough to give residents time to seek shelter.
    • " 'Without that, we would have a tremendous amount of injuries and loss of life,' Haylock said. 'People were down in their basements and waiting it out.' ..."
  • "New Hartford Woman Survives Tornado" (undated: ca. May 25, 2008)
    • "NEW HARTFORD, IA - Her house is demolished, but a New Hartford woman said she's just grateful to be alive.
    • "Dorothy Sherman was watching storm coverage on TV Sunday afternoon when a family member called to see if she'd taken cover. Sherman said she didn't realize the tornado was heading in her direction.
    • "She wasn't able to get to the basement on her own, so she took cover under a card table. Sherman sat on a chair in her hallway with the card table over her head as the tornado came her way. Strong winds blew the table out of her hands, and Sherman's sheets flew in her face. She ended up wrapping them over her head as the twister passed...."
I wasn't able to find a 'send help to' post for the Iowa towns. My guess is that they are small enough for that sort of information to be passed around without involving the Web.

Previous post: "Memorial Day Weekend Tornado: Hugo, Minnesota" (May 25, 2008)

1Or maybe a little boy. News services don't seem to have a handle on that detail yet.

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