MADISON COUNTY, Iowa — Damage assessment was underway in Madison County Sunday morning after several tornadoes tore through the area the previous day, killing at least seven people across central Iowa and leaving dozens of homes destroyed.
Six people were killed in Madison County, including four adults and two children, officials said Saturday night. Another fatality was later confirmed in Lucas County.
Madison County Emergency Management identified the six victims as:
- Melissa Bazley, 63
- Rodney Clark, 64
- Cecilia Lloyd, 72
- Michael Bolger, 37
- Kenley Bolger, 5
- Owen Bolger, 2
Six others are still being treated for their injuries.
MCEMA, along with Gov. Kim Reynolds, held a news conference Sunday afternoon with the latest updates.
"The last twelve hours have been some of the most difficult times our community has faced," MCEMA Director Diogenes Ayala said.
The Iowa governor took her moment to talk about how Iowans have once again stepped up to help each other.
"200 to 300 Iowans, not only from Madison County and Winterset but from communities and towns all across the state, that were on the ground the minute it was light and they could start helping and it's just unbelievable," Reynolds said. "I tried to walk through and thank them for being there, and over and over their response was, 'We're Iowans, and that's what we do.' We show up, we take care of our family, we take care of our neighbors, and we take care of our community."
"Roads are still snow covered and we do not want volunteers to be injured due to not knowing what is under the snow," the agency tweeted.
Watch: Tornado rips through Winterset homes, levels PepperHarrow Farm
The tornado ripped through the hills of Winterset, leaving behind leveled and blown-apart houses. Roofs and walls were missing from several structures.
"Our kids were really upset and shaken and Tony said, 'Okay, you know, before we open up this door, we looked at ourselves and we were unhurt,'" said Wendy and Tony Burkett, Winterset residents. "'And whatever we find can be replaced so that we are still here.' So we opened up the door and found out that most of our house was gone."
Dozens of neighbors and first responders came to the house today to pick up debris.
Full video: March 6, 2022 press conference in Madison County
How strong was the Winterset, Iowa tornado?
According to the National Weather Service Des Moines, at least three thunderstorms produced tornadoes in the area Saturday afternoon. It's not yet known how many tornadoes touched down.
Initial evidence from the Winterset area suggested damage from an EF-3 tornado. An EF-3 tornado has winds between 158-206 mph, according to the NWS.
The biggest impact was on Carver Road, according to MCEMA Director Diogenes Ayala. About 25 to 30 houses were impacted, Ayala said late Saturday night.
PepperHarrow Farm, a popular boutique flower farm in Winterset, Iowa, reported damage, and video appeared to show a tornado over that farm.
RELATED: WEATHER LAB | How tornadoes form
Iowa tornadoes: How you can help
Madison County EMA officials asked people to avoid damaged areas as they assessed the damage.
"We are asking that if you want to help volunteer that you check in at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce," Madison County EMA tweeted. "You will take a bus to volunteer locations. We cannot have anymore traffic in the area. We are also seeking shifts for tomorrow and Tuesday."
The Madison County Chamber of Commerce said in a Facebook post Sunday morning, "You can call us at the Chamber or message us with your name, phone number, # of volunteers, and any special skills/equipment you have. Emergency Management will reach out to you when they have specific assignments. At this time, we have not received any as there are other things that need to take place first."
The Chamber of Commerce phone number is 515-462-1185; the email is email@example.com.
The Greater Madison County Community Foundation said it had established a disaster relief fund. Click here for more information.
The Iowa Red Cross said that its team would be in Madison County on Sunday to distribute water, snacks and relief supplies.
According the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, "The official donation location for Winterset/Madison County is through Red Cross at New Bridge Church in Winterset. You may start taking donations there now and we will update you later today on more specific things that the families impacted are asking for. So far we are hearing that the following items are needed: Tarps, boxes, plastic storage totes and containers, and flashlights. Of course, items such as bottled water and non-perishable food, and personal hygiene are needed as well. Please consider donating gift cards from local area businesses for meals, food, gas, etc. Monetary donations may be made to the Red Cross."
For those in the St. Charles area, the Talk Shop Lounge is accepting donations. Click here for information.
The Madison County Live Stock Auction was open Sunday for livestock that needs shelter, according to Madison County EMA.
Iowa governor tornado response
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for Madison County Saturday night. That allows state resources to be utilized in Madison County to assist with response and recovery efforts.
On Sunday, Reynolds tweeted more about the storm.