April 15, 2006

Iowa City hit by a category F2 tornado, Gov. declares disaster area.

A crushed car along Iowa Avenue in Iowa City.

A photo from the Iowa City Press-Citizen shows Jessica Fischels standing in the remains of her apartment on Iowa Avenue in Iowa City.

The paper has many photo slide shows and interesting reports detailing people's experiences and the extent of damage. The National Weather Service has determined that there were two tornados which hit Iowa City, including one designated F2 which packed winds of from 113-157 mph.

The Press-Citizen has a few photo slideshows with amazing pictures of the destruction and scenes around town after the storm passed. Their "The Storm of 'O6" slide show contains several excellent shots.

*Update* The Press-Citizen has just added more galleries and a video of the tornado shot by Public Access Television as well. (high speed connection and Quicktime required)

The town is a mess, to put it mildly.

St.Patrick's church had part of its roof and front wall removed

Alpha Chi Omega sorority house was heavily damaged with its roof torn off and the walls of one side of the building ripped away to reveal bunk beds in an upper bedroom.

A car lies wrecked in a ravine with the ruins of the sorority house behind it. A fantastic shot.

Anyone wanna buy a car... cheap?

Downed power lines in an intersection.

The Daily Iowan has a few aerial shots, including the one below of destruction on Iowa Avenue, but requires registration to read their articles.

About 20 or so minor injuries were treated at local hospitals. There was only one fatality reported, an unnamed person perished in a mobile home near the Muscatine County town of Nichols.

Iowa Governor Vilsack declared a state of emergency and other reports say that officials will ask for a Federal state of emergency be declared as well.

According to a piece in the Press-Citizen, the youth of today are pretty much all they're cracked up to be. Faced with grim destruction all around them, they sprung into action, clogging streets and intersections, getting drunk, and standing around with their hats on backwards taking pictures of the destruction with their cell phones.

They're not about to let something like a deadly tornado interfere with their getting a load on, expressing their devotion to material status symbols by bumming out about the loss of their plasma screen TV even though they were spared, and the fact that they survived only due to the freak occurance that they didn't happen to be watching a DVD or zoning out on X-Box at the time.

These are the leaders of tomorrow. (though surviving a tornado is as good a reason to get plastered as any, I suppose.)
If it weren't for the sheer wreckage caused by Thursday night's storms, being downtown shortly after it passed was like being at Kinnick Stadium on a football Saturday.

Thousands of people -- mostly University of Iowa students -- poured onto the streets and roamed around looking at the damage. Many of them carried cases of beer or bottles of liquor with them and partied as they walked.

Many had video cameras. Most took pictures on their cell phones. Even more talked on their cell phones -- or tried to. Many systems were jammed, and calls could not go through because so many people were on at the same time.

Those who thought it would be a good idea to drive around and look at damage caused major traffic jams because nearly every street was blocked by downed trees, power lines and other debris. The traffic made it difficult for emergency vehicles to pass.

Nearly all of the central areas of the city were without power.

About 10:30 p.m., police started evacuating downtown, yelling at the students and telling them to leave.

But many whose apartments were damaged by the storm had no place to go.

Mike Hardy, 21, and his roommate, Mike Leppellere, 22, were in their third-floor apartment at 340 E. Burlington St., keeping tabs on the weather on TV.

Hardy said the TV station reported damage at Menard's on Iowa City's southwest side, so they didn't think the storm would hit downtown. When they saw rain swirling in the street, they took cover in the hallway with about 15 other people.

"Girls were screaming. We stood there just listening," Hardy said.

"We didn't think it was coming here," Leppellere said.

A cement block wall and part of the roof from the neighboring building fell into their living room.

"It's shot. It's going to cave in," Hardy said, lamenting the loss of his new plasma screen TV.

The roommates said they feel lucky that they happened to be watching TV on Thursday night.

"If we would have been watching a DVD or playing Xbox, we'd be toast," Hardy said.
There were also reports of looting in the aftermath, and two arrests were made, one of a guy trying to steal cash from the destroyed Happy Joes, and another guy got pinched for rolling a dumpster into a fire truck. (I'm sure he had a good reason. Depending on what he was high on, it may have been self-defense.)


At 4/15/2006 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He rolled the dumpster into the fire truck outside of Gabe's Oasis. He was kicked out for starting a fight or something, and then pushed a dumpster down the alley way, inevitably into a firetruck. Needless to say, there were plenty of angry firefighters and police officers. And much applause.


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