Residents of McGregor in northeast Iowa are cleaning up after an EF-1 tornado (peak winds 110mph) devastated the downtown area Wednesday night.
No major injuries were reported. Some historic buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed, and there were piles of bricks and glass in the street.
McGregor resident Anne Kruse was at a meeting downtown when a window blew in. After the tornado passed, she says she went outside and it was "absolute chaos."
"Debris blown everywhere. Close to the river, the damage to the buildings wasn’t as bad. But as you went further up Main Street, inland, that’s where the damage to the buildings got very very severe," Kruse says.
A two-story building on the National Register of Historic Places completely collapsed. Some cars were crushed under piles of bricks. Kruse says some garages are pulled apart or missing.
McGregor Mayor Harold Brooks says the first priority is to restore power to the area. He says it looks like the tornado went straight down Main Street, and he is urging people to stay away from the town.
Kruse says crews have been removing trees from the road, and residents who depend on oxygen tanks and other medical equipment were evacuated.
"They had to rope off the worst buildings—the bricks and things are still falling off—that’s going to be a much bigger project," Kruse says. "A lot of these large plate glass windows were blown out. People are picking up glass out of the road."
Kruse says everyone went outside right after the storm to check on neighbors and start cleaning up.
McGregor business owner Katie Ruff says people are staying positive and focusing on cleaning up and rebuilding.
"Buildings can be replaced. People can't," Ruff says.
Ruff says it may take a few weeks for downtown businesses to get back up and running.