Monday, April 11, 2011

Crazy weather: Tornado three-quarters of a mile wide flattens Iowa town... as hailstones the size of baseballs pound cars in North Carolina - 10th Apr

The small Iowa town of Mapleton will spend the next few months rebuilding after a tornado three-quarters of a mile wide swept through the area.

Emergency services have not yet calculated the cost of the damage after Saturday night's storm flattened most of the town of 1,200. No one was killed but two people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries. The were other reports of 14 to 16 injuries, the most severe a broken leg.

The tornado destroyed 12 to 15 blocks in the south-west corner of Mapleton when it struck about 7:20 pm, the county sheriff said. The tornado destroyed around 100 homes and displaced an estimated 500 to 600 residents.

Sheriff Jeff Pratt said the recovery was likely to cost millions of dollars and the state governor Terry Branstad has promised financial aid.

The tornado was one of several reported in Iowa on Saturday and destruction was widespread. The tree after which Mapleton was named, and has stood in the centre of the town for hundreds of years, was ripped out by its roots and tossed on top of cars. A vast motor home was flipped on its side.

'It's not a pretty sight,' Mayor Fred Standa said. 'It's something nobody has seen in this town.'

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