A large tornado hit the Iowa City area last Thusday evening, April 13. Thankfully, there were no lives lost and only about 30 injuries were reported. But the devastation is unbelievable. From the pictures I've seen and the reports I've heard, the damage is widespread from the downtown area to the northeast side of Iowa City. (Photo courtesy of Cedar Rapids Gazette)
The University of Iowa was spared a large portion of the damage. The Cambus barn (see map) lost its roof, but the buildings on the Pentacrest area around the Old Capitol had little damage to them. However, due to the extensive damage to the area east of campus - which houses a number of students - classes were canceled the following day.
The hardest hit area was just on the east side of downtown Iowa City and to the residential area just to the east of that. Our daughter, Sara, lives on Burlington St. and it so happened that the tornado just missed her place, but damaged a number of homes and businesses to her north and east. This is a picture taken by Marcia Schroeder as Scott and her were in Iowa City the following day to be with their son, Greg.
It turned out that Sara was in Cedar Rapids when the storm hit, and she went back to Iowa City that evening to make sure that everything was OK. She had a large chunk of metal in her parking spot and she told me it was all she and a friend could do to move it out of the way. The only damage she could see (other than having no power for about 20 hours) was that the windows rattled so hard that the sprayed on texture on the drywall around the windows came off.
The intersection of Gilbert and Burlington was hard hit (Sara lives 1 1/2 blocks to the east of that intersection). A pizza place, a convenience store and the Iowa City Rec Center all sustained heavy damage. The law offices of Randy Larson, a guy I've known for years, was also heavily damaged. The picture to the right, one of Randy's assistants carries files out of the building. (Photo courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Gazette)
One of the most hard hit buildings was St. Patrick's Cathedral on the south side of the downtown area. There were 75 people inside the church when the tornado hit. They sought refuge in the rectory next to the church (photo by Marcia Schroeder). It's not known at this time if the church will have to be razed or if they can salvage the basic foundation of the building.
The Alpha Chi Omega house at the corner of Washington and Governor was also heavily damaged. About 35 members of the sorority lived in the house. (Photo by Marcia Schroeder) Well, not any longer. They were moved to an old fraternity that was closed a couple of years ago.
One of the most high profile buildings in Iowa City, the Dairy Queen on Riverside Dr. was also wiped out. Here's a picture of a before and after shot of the Dairy Queen that was sent to me. The Dairy Queen stood there for 54 years and the owners fully intend to rebuild.
Here's a shot Marcia Schroeder took of three cars under a tree behind the Pentacrest Apartments on Burlington St. Scott and Marcia's son, Greg, lives in the Pentacrest Apartments, but there was little to no damage to them (in fact, Greg was in Davenport with his parents when the storm hit).
All in all, storm damage to Iowa City will be probably well into 8 figures before everything is totaled up. Iowa City Police initially set the estimated damages at $3 million dollars. However, my friend, Al Kern, who works for WSUI in Iowa City, was told by the owner of the Honda automobile dealership in Iowa City that his business, alone, suffered about $2 million dollars in damage.
Looking at all the pictures people have sent me along with the news reports I've seen, it's difficult to imagine that no one was killed or seriously hurt in the tornado.