Clean up work begins in aftermath of Marshalltown tornado

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (WHOtv) - – Friday marks the first real day of clean-up for thousands of Iowans after tornadoes ripped through several cities -- destroying homes, businesses, and even some pieces of history.

The heart of Marshalltown was the hardest hit by the tornado.

As of 6:00 a.m., more than 6,000 customers in the city were still without power.

Around 4:30 Thursday afternoon, mother nature stormed into downtown Marshalltown. Officials have declared a state of emergency. Bricks, signs and windows have been ripped from buildings and are now scattered across the streets. The also tornado sheared the top of the clock tower right off the city's historic courthouse. The courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lennox factory is one of the businesses in Marshalltown that was most severely damaged.

The cleanup is still in its early stages in Marshalltown and it's been a citywide effort all through the night. Cleanup work began right away in Marshalltown and hasn't stopped.

Marshalltown police are asking peole to stay away from damaged areas right now until an assessment on the need for volunteers can be made later Friday morning.

Police say only minor injuries have been reported as a result of the storm.

The only hospital in Marshalltown was damaged, spokeswoman Amy Varcoe said. All 40 of the patients at UnityPoint Health were being transferred to the health system's larger hospital in Waterloo as well as one in Grundy Center, she said.

The emergency room in the smaller Marshalltown hospital remained open to treat patients injured in the storm, Varcoe said. Ten people hurt in the storm had been treated, she said. She did not know how serious those patients' injuries were.

The images across the city are shocking, with roofs torn off homes, trees uprooted, businesses and homes without windows, and cars tossed around by the tornado.

A shelter has been set up at the Meskwaki Hotel/Casino in Tama for those that have been displaced by the storms.