Storms Leave One Dead, Cause Wide-Spread Damage In Northeast Iowa [PHOTOS]
Clean-up is underway across northeast Iowa following another round of severe weather on Wednesday (May 17, 2017).
Winds as high as 70 miles per hour uprooted trees, damaged homes and buildings, and knocked down power lines. The storms left thousands of people without electricity as they moved rapidly across the region.
In Cedar Falls, one of the hardest hit areas of the city appeared to be a neighborhood near Cedar Heights Baptist Church, just off Rainbow Dr. and Rownd St. High winds uprooted several large trees and blew down a traffic signal on University Ave. Near downtown, a parked car was crushed when a big tree fell on top of it.
More than 8,000 people lost electricity in Waterloo and Cedar Falls combined Wednesday night. Mid-American Energy reported having nearly 7,000 outages in Waterloo alone. As of 6 a.m. Thursday, more than 1,600 Mid-American customers remained without electricity across northeast Iowa, including nearly 600 in Waterloo and 100 in Evansdale.
At least one death is blamed on the weather. Butler County sheriff’s officials confirmed a semi driver died when high winds overturned the rig on Iowa Highway 57 near Parkersburg. Authorities identified the victim as James Budlong, 70, of Dike, who they said died from injuries he sustained after being pinned inside the vehicle.
High winds also tipped over semis on U.S. Highway 20 near Dike and on Black Hawk County Road C-66 (Dunkerton Road) east of U.S. Highway 63, but those incidents apparently caused no injuries.
The Iowa Department of Transportation was forced to close Iowa Highway 175 near the Black Hawk-Grundy County line for nearly an hour Wednesday night. Authorities said several uprooted trees were blocking the highway east of Reinbeck.
In Bremer County, Emergency Management Director Kip Ladage said high winds knocked over several power lines on about a two-mile stretch of County Road C-50 (Cedar-Wapsi Road) near Janesville. Around Tripoli, a former hog confinement building was lifted up and smashed into a corn-filled bin. Numerous trees were blown over, some into buildings.
Ladage confirmed that a tree blew over onto a moving van in Tripoli. In a Facebook post, he said there were six occupants inside who received “only very minor scratches”.
Also in Tripoli, a tree caused extensive damage when it fell onto the roof of the city’s public library.
Damage reports were widespread in other areas of northeast Iowa. In Greene, officials said part of a building on Main Street collapsed during the storm.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, the threat of severe weather delayed the scheduled opening of a traveling national monument in Cedar Falls. Organizers had planned to assemble the half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall right after its arrival at the AMVETS Post 49 building, but decided to wait until Thursday morning.
Wednesday’s storms came two days after powerful thunderstorms blew through much of the state, damaging homes and other buildings. The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-0 tornado caused some minor damage when it touched down in Winneshiek County southeast of Calmar Monday evening.