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Marshalltown picking up the pieces after tornadoes blow through

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa-- Residents in Marshalltown said they have a long road to recovery ahead of them after a tornado barreled through Thursday evening.

"I looked out the back of the building right away and I saw a roof go across the parking lot like a frisbee," said Jeff Mitchell, who owns an apartment building downtown.

He was moving splintered pieces of wood out of his parking lot Friday morning. He said he sought shelter in the basement during the storm.

"Things were crashing outside, banging up against the wall," he said. "And you could just feel the air sucked out of the basement instantly."

Mitchell said when he came out, it was utter devastation.

"I mean there's literally roofs of buildings laying in our parking lot," he said. "And we don't know what roofs, where they came from."

Rick Clement was helping to move debris to the curb.

"You never think it's going to happen to you or this close to you," he said.

It's a sentiment shared by many throughout the city. One man said he had always heard that Marshalltown never got hit by tornadoes because it was between two rivers.

"I still can't believe it," Gilbert Gonzales said. "It's kind of weird seeing everything just kind of like a movie."

Gonzales was going around one neighborhood, offering help wherever he could.

"We got the chainsaw. We're chopping them up, the trees, pulling all the trees to the front. And we've got a bunch of trash bags, getting all the trash," he said.

Gonzales was helping out the Ibarro family. Ramon Ibarro explained that several of his family's homes suffered damages. A massive tree was ripped out of the ground during Thursday's storm and fell onto Ibarro's parents' house.

"The ceiling is down," he said. "We have a ceiling from another neighbor's house. There's no electricity, no water."

That was a common sight throughout the city. Hundreds of trees and powerless were downed. Rooves and siding were ripped off of houses. Mud was sprayed onto vehicles and buildings, and shreds of insulation covered the ground.

"What do you do? You just put on your big boy pants and clean it up," said one man, who was boarding up his buildings downtown. "Marshalltown's a tough town. we'll come back."