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Five dead and nearly three dozen injured in tornadoes that devastated Iowa

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — A deadly tornado that wreaked havoc In the small town of Greenfield, Iowa, it left four dead and nearly three dozen injured, authorities said, while a fifth person died elsewhere.

The tornado that tore through the city on Tuesday was rated at least EF-3 by the National Weather Service and was so destructive that it took authorities more than a day to account for area residents.

The number of people injured is believed to be likely higher, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said.

The fifth person died about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Greenfield when his car went off the road in a tornado, according to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Monica Zamarron, 46, died in the crash Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the other victims.

The severe weather turned south on Wednesday. In Texas, authorities issued an emergency declaration in Temple, a city of more than 90,000 people north of Austin, after powerful storms hit the area. Thousands of residents were left without power, schools canceled classes Thursday and nearby Fort Cavazos reported significant debris blocking traffic at the Army installation.

In Iowa, the Greenfield tornado destroyed homes, splintered trees and wrecked cars in a town of 2,000 people about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines. The tornado too Crumpled massive wind turbines producing energy. several kilometers outside the city.

Greenfield resident Kimberly Ergish and her husband dug through the debris field that used to be their home Wednesday, searching for family photos and other salvageable items. There wasn’t much left, she admitted. The reality that her home was destroyed in seconds has not dawned on her, she said.

“If it weren’t for all the bumps and bruises and bone pain, I would think this didn’t happen,” Ergish said.

The deadly tornado spawned during a historic tornado season in the U.S., at a time when climate change is increasing the severity of storms around the world. April had the second highest number of tornadoes registered in the country.

As of Tuesday, 859 tornadoes had been confirmed this year, 27% more than the United States sees on average, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Iowa has recorded the most so far, with 81 confirmed tornadoes.

On Tuesday alone, the National Weather Service said it received 23 reports of tornadoes, 21 of them in Iowa.

Tuesday’s storms also hit parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, leaving tens of thousands of customers in the two states without power.

The National Weather Service said initial surveys indicated at least one EF-3 tornado in Greenfield, but further assessment of damage could lead to a stronger rating.

The tornado appeared to have been on the ground for more than 40 miles (64 kilometers), AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter said. A satellite photo taken by BlackSky Technology shows where the tornado cut a nearly straight path of destruction through the city, just south of Greenfield’s central plaza.

“Debris rose thousands of feet into the air and ended up falling to the ground several counties away from Greenfield. That is evidence of how intense and deadly this tornado was,” Porter said.

People as far as 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Greenfield posted photos on Facebook of torn family photos, yearbook pages and other items that were lifted into the sky by the tornado.

About 90 miles (145 kilometers) away in Ames, Iowa, Nicole Banner found a yellowed page that said “This book is the property of the Greenfield Community School District” taped to her garage door like a sticky note after she the storm passed.

“We just couldn’t believe it had traveled so far,” he said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the FEMA administrator would be in Iowa on Thursday and that the White House was in contact with state and local officials. She said they were “praying for those who tragically lost their lives” and wished the injured a “speedy recovery.”

Greenfield’s 25-bed hospital was among the damaged buildings, and at least a dozen injured people had to be transferred to facilities elsewhere. Hospital officials said in a Facebook post Wednesday that the hospital will remain closed and that full repairs could take weeks or months. An urgent care clinic has been set up at an elementary school and primary care services will begin there on Thursday, according to the post.

Residential streets that on Monday were lined with ancient trees and carefully decorated ranch-style homes were a chaotic jumble of splintered and shattered remains on Wednesday. Many of the basements of the homes where residents were sheltering were exposed and front yards were filled with belongings, from furniture to children’s toys and Christmas decorations.

Roseann Freeland waited until the last minute to run with her husband to a cement room in their basement. Seconds later, her husband opened the door “and you could see daylight,” Freeland said. “I just lost it. “I just completely lost it.”

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Beck reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Associated Press journalists Steve Karnowski and Trisha Ahmed in Minneapolis; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; and Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, contributed.