Midwest Suffers Hits from Deadly Tornadoes The damage assessment continues from tornadoes that hit the upper Midwest. At least eight people died in Iowa and Minnesota - the small town of Parkersburg, Iowa, about 80 miles northeast of Des Moines, was the hardest hit. A high school and numerous homes are no longer standing.

Midwest Suffers Hits from Deadly Tornadoes

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GUY RAZ, host:

From NPR News, this ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

Cleanup is underway today in parts of Iowa and Minnesota. That's after a tornado swept through late yesterday killing at least seven people. The twister killed a toddler in Hugo, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul. It also hit Parkersburg, Iowa, a town of about a thousand people northeast of Des Moines. Four Parkersburg residents died and nearly a third of the town was destroyed in just minutes.

Pat Blank of member station KUNI in Cedar Falls reports.

PAT BLANK: On a day when families and friends usually gather for picnics or ballgames, people here are sifting through rubble, lots of rubble. What's believed to be an F4 tornado leveled the Southern half of this town of Parkersburg, killing four people.

Kenneth Coat, Sr.(ph) is here helping family members salvage what they can.

Mr. KENNETH COAT, SR.: Fairly all brand new houses up to here, built in the last eight to 10 years. They're all gone. There's one family right here on the corner that was trapped in a basement for a while. And one of the fatalities, he lived just up over the hill there.

BLANK: Parkersburg also lost its bank, high school, restaurants and grocery store. Many buildings here are nothing but splinters, homes are just piles of glass, metal and wood, with an occasional clothing items sticking through.

Larry Johnson's(ph) mother is disabled and could only make it to the front hallway of her house.

Mr. LARRY JOHNSON: And that's where she was. She would just got in the hallway when it hit and the roof and went. And she said she had a card table. She held it over her head but it sucked that away. And then the betting from the bed flew through the hallway and she grabbed that and hid underneath that until it was over. And with just a matter of a minute or so, it was - everything was gone.

BLANK: U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley lives in nearby New Hartford, where two people were killed. Touring the destruction, he appears visibly shaken.

Senator CHUCK GRASSLEY (Republican, Iowa): Well, it's the most devastation that I have ever seen from a tornado, and I've seen most of it on television. But television could not tell you the story of how bad this is here.

BLANK: I'm standing on the top of a hill at a place where I used to live for six years. There used to be a barn, a house, a garage and some outbuildings. Now there's nothing but dirt.

Governor CHET CULVER (Democrat, Iowa): We have requested an expedited emergency response that will be granted, which means we'll get federal assistance at least in this community right away so we can start the cleanup effort.

BLANK: That's Iowa Governor Chet Culver touring the site today. Shelters have been established in nearby towns and the Red Cross will provide food, water and a place to sleep for those displaced as long as necessary.

As for those trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, people living on the Mississippi River 90 miles away have found pictures and bank statements from Parkersburg residents floating in the water.

For NPR News, I'm Pat Blank.

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