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Monday, May 26, 2008

7 killed in Iowa storm

A state official says seven people were killed and dozens more injured as a storm ripped through a rural area in northeastern Iowa.

The storm, which hit about 5 p.m. Sunday, leveled the southern half of Parkersburg, a town of about 1,000 west of Waterloo. The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado struck Parkersburg.

Iowa Homeland Security administrator Dave Miller says that of the seven dead, five were from Parkersburg and two were from nearby New Hartford. At least 50 injuries were reported.

The Des Moines Register reported that the tornado ripped off the roof of the town's high school. Gary Frank, an elder at First Congregational church in Parkersburg, told the newspaper: "You can't even tell anything has happened here, but just two blocks up the street it's total devastation."

Jim, a spokesman for Allen Hospital in Waterloo, said people came from nearby Grundy Center, Aplington and Eldora for treatment of injuries.

"It looks like most of them are fractures and broken collarbones," a Butler County sheriff's department spokesperson said. "One is in critical condition."

Officials opened Parkersburg's elementary school for evacuees.

A tornado also may have struck the town of Dunkerton, with reports of structural damage in rural Black Hawk County.

In the St. Paul suburb of Hugo, authorities said a swift storm killed at least one person and injured nine others.

At least 20 people were unaccounted for, Hugo City Administrator Mike Ericson said. Many of them could be out of town for the holiday weekend, he said.

Ericson said a 2-year-old child was killed.

Hugo Fire Chief Jim Compton said nine people were treated at local hospitals.

Residents reported a tornado touching down in the area, but that had not been confirmed by the National Weather Service.

Hugo Public Works Director Chris Petree said his family took shelter in the basement before the storm lifted his house off the ground and wiped out the second floor.

"I put my daughter down first, my wife on top of her and then I bear-hugged on top of them," Petree said. "All you hear is glass breaking and wood tearing and breaking in half," he said.

The weather service issued a tornado watch Sunday for most of Wisconsin.