Eastern Iowans begin recovery from tornado damage

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - As a crew from the National Weather Service surveyed the damaged left by a tornado in eastern Iowa this weekend, the people affected by that tornado began their recovery process.

The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities determined an EF-1 tornado with wind speeds up to 110 miles per hour touched down in parts of Johnson County on Friday evening.

It first touched down in the rural community of Frytown, near the Johnson County-Washington County line, and caused significant damage at a local business, Frytown Trailers.

“Quite a few trailers upside down,” said Rosemary Slabaugh, who owns the company with her husband, Mark. “There were probably five or six that were upside down on the road, blocking traffic.”

Then the tornado headed north toward Iowa City, where it tore the roof off Kelly Heating and Air’s building near the Iowa City airport and uprooted a tree across the street.

In that same area, the tornado also knocked the roof off the Williams family’s home along Mormon Trek Boulevard and scattered debris in their field.

The tornado destroyed the Williams’ barn as well, which was more than 100 years old. On Saturday, friends and family salvaged what they could from the barn before they burned the rest.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rich Kinney of the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities said no one was reported injured from the storm in Johnson County.

“It, fortunately, didn’t go into the more heavily populated areas of Iowa City because even tornado on the weaker end of the scale, if they go through a populated area, then really, you start to worry,” he said.

Kinney said videos of the storm that were safely recorded and spread across social media Friday may have also helped keep people safe.

“Folks, I think, really paid attention to the warnings and can see for themselves what was going on and took the appropriate shelter,” he said.

Kinney said this time of year can oftentimes bring unpredictable weather. His office covers parts of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, and he said Saturday was the third day in a row that crews were surveying storm damage in that area.

He said Friday’s storms might not be the end of what’s to come for this weekend.

“We are not out of the woods yet in terms of severe weather,” Kinney said. “Folks can’t let their guard down, and we just ask that they stay informed with the latest forecast and be ready to act.”

Kinney also said that the EF-1 tornado in Johnson County wasn’t eastern Iowa’s only tornado on Friday.

The National Weather Service also found an EF-0 tornado in rural Cedar County, north of West Branch, with speeds up to 80 miles per hour.