Twisters Hurt 17 People on Thursday Night

Image taken by Jeremy Flores near Pella.

Forecasters say at least five tornadoes touched down as an unexpected swarm of destructive storms hit central Iowa.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Johnson said Friday that it will take days to determine the strength and total number of the twisters that hit three town on Thursday afternoon.

The storms injured at least 17 people, flattened buildings and forced the evacuation of a hospital.

Johnson says there were reports of more than two dozen tornadoes, but that they all likely stem from the same handful of twisters.

Johnson says survey teams are examining damage in Marshalltown and other locations where the tornadoes hit to determine the tornadoes’ strength.

Some buildings at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown sustained roof damage when a tornado hit the city northeast of Des Moines on Thursday.

Commandant Timon Oujiri says the facility housing nearly 500 residents lost power, but that no residents or staffers were injured. He says generators are now powering the buildings.

Alliant Energy says more than 5,800 customers were without power in Marshalltown, and that natural gas service has been shut down in part of the city. Crews have been dispatched to repair damage and assess which areas can have gas service safely restored.

Tornadoes also touched down in at least two other cities Thursday afternoon, injuring at least 17 people, flattening buildings and forcing the evacuation of a hospital.