FRUITLAND, Iowa – A tornado flattened dozens of homes in three eastern Iowa communities Friday, leaving a path of destruction that tore through businesses and neighborhoods in the Mississippi River town of Muscatine.
The twister ripped away the four walls of the post office in the town of Fruitland, leaving a clear view of post office boxes and equipment inside amid piles of rubble and tree limbs. In Muscatine, population 23,000, some roads were closed with fallen trees and were impenetrable by car.
The tornado, with winds from 136 to 140 mph, struck the town of Grandview, went north through Fruitland and dissipated in the Muscatine area about 10 minutes later, said Jeff Zogg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Davenport.
Several people were hospitalized, but none with serious injuries, authorities said.
Heavy rains also poured across the region, causing flooding and several traffic accidents, including one fatal wreck near Coralville.
Gov. Chet Culver declared a disaster emergency for Jackson, Louisa and Muscatine counties, authorizing state and local authorities to assist in the cleanup.