How was no one killed by the Marshalltown tornado?
Amidst the materialistic devastation experienced from Thursday’s tornado in Marshalltown, from shattered windows to totaled cars, yards filled with destruction and roofs or walls no longer protecting inhabitants from the severe conditions outside, there was one thing that was not lost in the storm.
It is, undeniably, the most important.
The EF-3 tornado that tore through town four days ago and created an immense recovery effort already underway spared the one thing that cannot be rebuilt. No one died as a result of the storm.
“I think you can attribute that to luck,” said Jeff Johnson, Meteorologist in Charge with the National Weather Service in Des Moines. “You can also attribute that to the warning process, not only with the Weather Service but with the community being prepared. I think that plays into that. Most people in Iowa are fairly tornado savvy and they take the warnings seriously.
“You’ve got to look at some of the businesses that were hit, like the Lennox business. They moved people into where they needed to be, from what I understand, and that undoubtedly saved lives (because) it took a hit.”
Johnson said Marshalltown “took it right on the chin,” and added that a storm the strength of Thursday’s making “a direct hit on a town is fairly rare.”
When Johnson quickly jogged his memory during a phone interview with the Times-Republican Sunday trying to think of the last big tornado that hit a town in Iowa like Thursday’s did here, the first that came to mind was Parkersburg’s in 2008. That tornado was an EF-5.
Prior to Thursday, the last EF-3 tornado in Iowa occurred June 22, 2015. Its path didn’t approach any major towns while it spun roughly 80 miles south of Marshalltown through Monroe, Lucas and Marion counties.
No one has died in Iowa in a tornado since April 27, 2014, when an EF-1 took two lives in Keokuk county.
Tornado fatalities are relatively uncommon in Iowa. NWS data shows there have been 1,772 tornadoes, including 41 rating as an EF-3, in the state from 1980 through the end of last year. Twenty-nine people died in those storms.
Those statistics haven’t left locals any less thankful to still be talking about last week’s storm.
Glen Reynolds told the Times-Republican that his mother sat in a reclining chair in her home’s living room as the tornado roared through town.
“She ended up with two knicks on her legs,” Reynolds said. “It’s a miracle.”
Kerry Jech, Senior Pastor at New Hope Christian Church, 3901 S. Center St., heard several survival stories from members of his congregation this weekend. One female member of the church rode out the storm in her car while a dumpster hit her car and a tree came through a window, Jech said. Other members sought shelter while at the courthouse downtown and Lennox Employees Credit Union.
“You hear these stories and you think, how can there not be fatalities?” Jech said. “Just have to give credit to the Lord for that.
“You see these things on television and now all a sudden, it happens to you and there’s nothing you can do about it at that point except pray. I don’t want to minimize that. It’s a powerful thing, as we can see. Nobody was killed in the tornado.”