July 20 (UPI) -- At least five tornados swept through central Iowa, injuring at least 17 people and demolishing homes and businesses.
The tornados hit the towns of Marshalltown, Bondurant and Pella the hardest. They accompanied a cold front that swept through the area on Thursday afternoon, according to the Des Moines Register. One struck the Vermeer Corp., a farm and construction equipment manufacturer near Pella, whose 2,700 were hosting an appreciation day for customers and dealers. Seven people were injured and two company buildings were demolished.
The iconic, 16-feet high clock tower atop the Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown fell 175 feet to the ground, and several homes and businesses were severely damaged, Weather.com reported. The town reported 10 injuries, overturned vehicles and downed trees and power lines. Several dozen children at a daycare center in the Marshalltown Coliseum were brought to the basement before the roof of the building was torn off. A state of emergency was declared.
Tornado warnings began sounding across the area, northeast of Des Moines, at about 2:55 p.m. Thursday. The city of Bondurant was the first to see a tornado arrive. At least 12 houses were damaged.
The Marshalltown government urged people to stay away from the town, saying on its website, "Fire, law enforcement and EMS are actively working in Marshalltown to assess the damage, tend to the injured and respond to calls for help. The response is being hampered by all of the citizens coming to Marshalltown to view the damage. Please ask people to stay out of the north part of Marshalltown. We have power lines down, gas leaks and several damaged buildings."