Killer tornado grabs woman

first_imgSTRATFORD, Iowa – Ron Runyan couldn’t hear the sirens. The winds were deafening. In a matter of moments, the quiet weekend he had planned with his mother and sister in Iowa turned into a nightmare. Runyan, a 47-year-old truck driver from Fargo, N.D., looked outside a window Saturday night and saw a howling tornado headed for his mother’s house. He rushed his mother and sister toward the basement while the house was disintegrating in the winds. “My sister fell down right below the stairs, and my mom, … the wind kind of took her away from me,” he said. “It was so dirty I couldn’t see her, and that was it.” As many as 30 homes in Stratford were destroyed, and at least 40 in Woodward were severely damaged, officials said. Search dogs were brought in to check the rubble, but authorities believed all residents were accounted for and felt fortunate there were not more deaths. “It’s amazing if you’ve seen the damage here. We had homes that were just obliterated, and they had people in them at the time it came through,” said Dallas County Sheriff Brian Gilbert. Gov. Tom Vilsack on Sunday visited Woodward and Stratford, where he offered his condolences to the Runyan family. “Tornadoes in November in Iowa just aren’t supposed to happen,” he said. In Woodward, Jackie Seeman and her husband shifted through the rubble of their destroyed home. Seeman, 47, said she had been in bed when the house collapsed around her Saturday. “I heard a big whoosh and a big boom, and then my house just came in on me,” she said. On Sunday, the Seemans were delighted to find a few of their NASCAR collectibles, but their car was covered in rubble, and their boat had been tossed hundreds of feet by the wind. Boats, lawn mowers and board games littered lawns in Woodward, a town of about 1,200 residents, and debris hung from trees. “We’ll probably stay here, although I’d like to go somewhere without a tornado,” Jackie Seeman said as she began crying. National Weather Service meteorologist Karl Jungbluth said the tornadoes that struck Woodward and Stratford are both being classified as F-2 on the Fujita scale, which measures the strength of a tornado up to F-5, the strongest. Both towns were socked with winds of nearly 150 miles per hour, he said. There was structural damage only in Woodward, Stratford, the northwest edge of Ames and some farms, Jungbluth said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week His mother, Lucille Runyan, 84, was the only person killed in storms that produced at least nine tornadoes on Saturday. His sister, Nancy Runyan, 53, remained hospitalized Sunday night with a broken hip. As crews removed debris Sunday from what remained of his mother’s home, Ron Runyan stood across the street in Stratford, a small town of about 745 residents, remembering the terror. “Everything happened so fast,” he said. “We were down below the stairs, and the roof was coming off. Everything was folding. The house was crackling.” Runyan said he would have died, too, if he had not dived into a corner when the roof blew off. Stratford and Woodward, 30 miles to the south, were the hardest hit by the tornadoes that swept through central Iowa on Saturday afternoon. The governor declared Hamilton and Dallas counties, north and west of Des Moines, disaster areas, making them eligible for state assistance. last_img read more

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