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Tornadoes hit Marshalltown, Bondurant, Pella

Marshalltown tornado damage. Photo by Gary Barrett WHO Radio News

DES MOINES, Iowa - Cleanup and damage assessment is underway in Central Iowa after a series of tornadoes Thursday afternoon.  There is significant damage in Marshalltown, as well as in Bondurant and Pella. 

Officials in Marshalltown have declared a state of emergency, City Administrator Jessica Kinser says, after a tornado made a direct hit on the city of Marshalltown.  The State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management reports no immediate reports of serious injuries.

Eyewitnesses tell WHO Radio News that the large twister struck the downtown area around 4:30pm with several buildings sustaining major damage, including the city's historic courthouse and the Lennox factory.  

"Everyone is advised to stay away from downtown Marshalltown until further notice," she said in a statement. "We also ask that people stay off cell lines unless necessary, to allow for emergency phone traffic."

 WHO's Gary Barrett is in Marshalltown and reports the steeple on the courthouse was torn away by the tornado.  He says there are bricks from another partially collapsed building as well as trees and other debris throughout town. 

Many of the 27,000 residents in Marshalltown are currently without power. Alliant Energy reported that nearly 7,000 homes and businesses were without electricity after the storm rolled through the area. 

In Pella, a tornado ripped into at least two buildings of Vermeer Manufacturing, with one eyewitness telling WHO News that debris was spread across an adjacent field for at least a half mile.  Preliminary reports says there were injuries, but details are unknown.  

In Bondurant, a tornado damaged houses and dropped electric lines and trees, with 2nd Street closed as crews work to stop a gas leak. 

Pella tornado destruction, photo WHO TV
Pella tornado photographed by Willard Sharp, by permission Iowa Storm Chasing Network

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