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Some buildings at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown sustained roof damage, but no residents or staffers were injured at the facility that houses almost 500 people, according to Timon Oujiri, the facility's commandant. The also tornado sheared the top of the clock tower right off the city's historic courthouse.
In Marshalltown, the main hospital was damaged and all 40 patients at UnityPoint Health were being transferred to several other hospitals.
"Everyone is advised to stay away from downtown Marshalltown until further notice", City Administrator Jessica Kinser said in a statement.
She her a storm siren and her mother texted her to seek shelter, so she and her son, Fredy Jr., rushed to the basement.
The storm broke out a window, ruining clothing and hats on display there, and destroyed her husband's vehicle, but she said she's relieved.
"All of a sudden, like, big tubs full of metal and cars started flying by the window, and that's when we realized it was bad", said David Ayala, a worker who was inside building 5 at the time of the tornado. Smith said his house and neighborhood were not damaged, but much of downtown and surrounding homes have been. "It's just an absolute mess".
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Pella's Vermeer plant was among the structures damaged in that community.
At least 10 people were injured and several homes and businesses were severely damaged in Marshalltown.
Julie Owen from Des Moines was visiting her daughter in Marshalltown when the tornado hit.
None of the patients are in critical condition, hospital spokeswoman Laura Rainey said. "Our No. 1 priority is to get team members safely home".
Linda Parker, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said seven people were treated at the scene with six taken to hospital.
A weather forecaster had predicted large hail fall, but the tornado took them by surprise. Forecasting models produced Thursday morning showed only a slight chance of strong thunderstorms later in the day, said Alex Krull, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said.
The CEO of Racom said all operations are up and running, even though the building looks to be damaged.