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#14 Powerful tornado rips through Marshalltown | The Gazette Top Stories 2018

The July 19 storm caused more than $30 million in damage

Buildings and cars were heavily damaged in downtown Marshalltown in the aftermath of a July 19 tornado. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Buildings and cars were heavily damaged in downtown Marshalltown in the aftermath of a July 19 tornado. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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An EF3 tornado with peak winds of 144 mph — the strongest storm in Iowa since 2015 — in July ripped through downtown Marshalltown and nearby neighborhoods, causing estimated damages of more than $30 million.

Despite the severity of the storm, public safety officials said it caused no deaths or major injuries.

It did rip the top tower off a more-than-century old courthouse, knock down building roofs and facades, smash cars and toss trees. Marshalltown — a town of 27,000 east of Ames — saw damage in six to eight blocks west of its downtown and another 12 blocks to the east.

Federal and state aid totaled $8.2 million, but state officials said damage to buildings and infrastructure in town exceeded $30 million, most of it covered by insurance.

The Marshalltown tornado was one in a string of storms July 19 across Iowa — with an EF2 striking Bondurant, two EF1s touching down near Keosauqua in Van Buren County and an EF3 hitting the Vermeer equipment manufacturing plant in Pella.

After the storm, Marshalltown officials scrambled to get thousands back on the power grid and set up an emergency shelter while homeowners worked to repair their properties.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied an appeal from Gov. Kim Reynolds to make its Individual Assistance Program available to residents and businesses affected by the July 19 tornadoes.

However, President Donald Trump declared Marshall County a presidential disaster in September and Polk County a presidential disaster in August, making public assistance funds available to both counties.

• Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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