UPDATE: Tornado causes severe damage to historic buildings in Marshalltown

Marshalltown damage (Source: Jackie)
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MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (KCRG-TV9 & AP) -- A tornado has caused brick walls to collapse into streets, ripped roofs off buildings and blown a cupola off the top of a historic court house in the central Iowa city of Marshalltown.

The damage from the Thursday afternoon tornado severely damaged many of the buildings in the city of 27,000, about 50 miles northeast of Des Moines.

There were no reports of deaths from the tornado that slammed into the city, but the brick buildings that surround the 132-year-old courthouse were severely damaged. The city's wide streets were littered with bricks and downed trees.

The courthouse also was hit hard, as the tornado caused its cupola to tumble about 175 feet to the ground.

The tornado hit Marshalltown just as clothing shop owner Stephanie Moz, her husband and their 2-month-old baby were taking a late lunch break.

She says the storm broke out the shop's window, ruined the clothing and hats they had on display and destroyed her husband's vehicle, but she's relieved. She says, "We went through a tornado and survived. I'm happy."

Moz says she heard a storm siren and her mother texted her to seek shelter, so she and her 2-month-old son, Fredy Jr., rushed to the basement. Her husband looked outside and then ran back, shouting "Get in the basement. It's right over us."

They could hear booms and crashes, and a gust of wind blew through the basement, but they emerged safely. Moz says, "We're OK. Not a scratch."

The baby? He barely noticed. Moz says, "It didn't really bother him. He wanted to sleep."

Here's what we know so far:

  • Many businesses have closed Friday. You may want to call before heading out to a business to make sure it is open.
  • All court hearings scheduled at the Marshall County Courthouse for Friday, Jly 20, are canceled and will be rescheduled. The clerk of court office will be closed Friday.
  • A tornado hit the Lennox Industries plant on the east side of Marshalltown Thursday afternoon, according to the company, which said employees should not come to work Friday, July 20.
  • The CEO of Racom said all operations are up and running, even though the building looks to be damaged. The county is running it's E911 operations out of the building after a gas leak and damage forced operators out of the Marshalltown Police Department building.
  • McFarland Clinic posted on Facebook the Marshalltown Main Street building was damaged, but there are no reports of injuries to patients or staff in the building. However, the Main Street clinic will be closed on Friday. Patients with scheduled appointments will be contacted for rescheduling.

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The Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter for those displaced by the tornado that hit Marshalltown Thursday.

The shelter is at the Meskwaki Conference Center at the Meskwaki Hotel/Casino in Tama. Anyone displaced can stay at the shelter. Those already at the Marshalltown Fire Department will be shuttled to the shelter tonight.
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The City of Marshalltown has declared a state of emergency and said a curfew will go into effect at 9 p.m. Thursday. Officials said everyone should stay off the streets unless they have an emergency.

Authorities are asking people to stay away as emergency personnel assess the damage, tend to the injured, and respond to calls for help. Officials said citizens coming to Marshalltown to view the damage are hampering the efforts.

In particular, they ask people to stay away from the north part of Marshalltown where there are multiple power lines down, gas leaks, and several damaged buildings.

The police department had to evacuate because of damage and a gas leak in the area.

An Emergency Operations Center has been set up in the Marshalltown Fire Department, 107 South 2nd Avenue, phone number 641-754-5751.

Alliant Energy crews are working to restore power and gas, and remind people to avoid downed lines and ruptured gas lines as much as possible. You may report any downed electric lines through AlliantEnergy.com/outage. You may also report electric and gas outages via 1-800-ALLIANT.

UnityPoint Health said a tornado struck the hospital in Marshalltown about 5 p.m. Thursday. They said there are no patient or staff injuries reported within the hospital, but the building did sustain structural damage. Staff are moving patients to UnityPoint Health – Waterloo and UnityPoint Health – Grundy Center.