Several tornadoes blew through central Iowa Thursday injuring at least 17 people and knocking down buildings in three cities. A hospital was also forced to evacuate after the tornadoes unexpectedly formed and swept through Marshalltown, Pella and Bondurant while residents fled for cover.
Marshalltown was the hardest hit according to reports from the scene. Marshalltown's historic courthouse was also badly damaged by the storm. The cupola was seen tumbling 175 feet to the ground in video posted online.
An agricultural machinery plant near Pella suffered a direct hit by a tornado, injuring at least seven people. Video from the scene showed extensive damage to several of the factory's manufacturing buildings, with dozens of vehicles overturned and piled into heaps around the parking lot.
Officials in Marshalltown have declared a state of emergency City Administrator Jessica Kinser said.
"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."
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.
Social media lit up with images of several buildings in the Bondurant area that were apparently destroyed after a tornado swept through a neighborhood of homes.
OH MY GOD. WATCH as an observed tornado just rips these houses to shreds in this Bondurant neighborhood. pic.twitter.com/SEwtuyWGFa— KCCI News (@KCCINews) July 19, 2018