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Storm unleashes fury on Marshalltown

T-R photos by Thomas Nelson — Widespread destruction hit Marshalltown and other communities when a derecho hit. Winds up to 99 mph caused damage equal to the 2018 tornado.

For the second time in two years, the residents of Marshalltown faced nature’s wrath. Roofs were destroyed, trees were obliterated, power lines were strung across roads. But Marshalltown endured, even with the fresh wounds inflicted by 99 mph winds and torrential rain on Monday.

Following the storm, which engulfed the entire town, a state of civil emergency was declared. Even though the storm passed, and people felt it was safe to go out and assess the damage, city officials are still asking people to stay home so first responders can do their job.

Marshalltown was not the only town hit. Damage caused by the storm is widespread throughout Marshall County, said Emergency Management Director Kim Elder.

Responders immediately began their work by rescuing people trapped in cars by trees and downed power lines.

“I don’t know how many people were trapped, but there are a lot,” she said. “Lots of people were driving on the roads when it hit.”

Elder did not receive reports of any deaths.

She was at the Test Iowa site at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office when the Times-Republican contacted her. The Test Iowa site has been flattened.

Elder urged people to remain home Monday evening — hours after the storm passed — as there was nothing to see and power lines were down in numerous places. She said assessments were ongoing and a meeting about the storm damage is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Damage reports can be made at the Marshall County Emergency Management website and on its Facebook page.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said he received more than 50 gas leaks reports. He urged people to evacuate as soon as possible and call 911.

Scott Reigstad, spokesperson for Alliant, said the company has 225,000 outages in Iowa due to the storm. Roughly 13,000 Marshalltown smart meters reported no power. He does not know when power will be restored.

“We are assessing the damage,” Reigstad said. “There are a lot of transmission poles and lines down . . . in multiple cities.”

All Alliant employees were called in. Reigstad said it is a all-hands on deck situation.

He asked for people to stay away from downed lines.

“Please assume they are energized,” Reigstad said. “Stay away from the poles. Don’t try to do anything with them.”

People can call 1-800-ALLIANT to broken lines and poles.

“We ask everybody to be safe and patient,” Reigstad said. “Our crews are out. There is a lot of damage. It will be a while for power to return.”

be provided on the Alliant Facebook and Twitter pages.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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