Tornado-spawning storms left 5 dead and dozens injured in Iowa

The destructive tornado that ravaged the town of Greenfield, Iowa, on Tuesday has left four dead and at least 35 injured, the Iowa State Patrol said in a Wednesday evening news release.

Two residents, Dean Wiggins, 78, and Pamela Wiggins, 77, were killed when their home was struck by a tornado, according to the Adair and Guthrie County Emergency Management Agency. Another man, Michael Jensen, 73, died at his residence. And William Williamson, 70, succumbed to his injuries after being transported from his home to a hospital.

In addition to the fatalities reported in Greenfield, at least one person was killed as storms passed through nearby Adams County, officials said earlier. Monica Irma Zamarron, 49, lost her life after being ejected from her vehicle on Highway 148, according to officials.

The Iowa State Patrol said the number of those injured from the Greenfield twister “is likely higher, but these numbers reflect only those patients treated for their injuries at designated alternate care sites.” At least 14 patients were taken to medical facilities outside of the county, the release added.

The tornado that carved through Greenfield – about 50 miles southwest of Des Moines – was an EF4, the National Weather Service in Des Moines said Thursday, and is the deadliest of the year. The tornado had peak winds of 175 mph to 185 mph, was more than a half-mile wide and was on the ground for 44 miles, according to the National Weather Service in Des Moines.

More than 100 first responders were combing through the wreckage of the town Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said. The city’s hospital sustained damage and some patients were moved to other facilities in surrounding areas. At least four medical airlift flights occurred.

A “makeshift hospital” was set up in the city’s lumberyard Tuesday right after the tornado tracked out of the area, State Rep. Ray Sorensen said Wednesday. Sorensen lives in the area and assisted with recovery efforts in the immediate aftermath.

“We pulled a guy from the rubble and put him on a little makeshift stretcher that we made for him on the back of a truck,” Sorensen recalled.

Video taken by CNN affiliate KCCI shows homes and other structures were obliterated and the community is blanketed with heaps of debris, tossed cars and uprooted trees.

“It’s horrific,” Reynolds said Wednesday. “It’s hard to describe until you can actually see the devastation.”

People survey debris from tornado damaged homes in Greenfield, Iowa on Wednesday. - Charlie Neibergall/AP
People survey debris from tornado damaged homes in Greenfield, Iowa on Wednesday. - Charlie Neibergall/AP

At least three tornadoes were reported in Iowa on Tuesday – part of a torrent of storms that left widespread power outages, structural damage and flooding across the US this week.

Tornado reports have skyrocketed well-above average in recent weeks as the typically busiest period of severe weather season unfolds. The more than 800 tornadoes reported so far make 2024 one of the most active years for twisters on record.

Greenfield, home to just over 2,100 residents, must now recover from the damage of the deadliest tornado in a year that’s recorded fewer deaths from twisters than 2023. Despite the number of tornadoes this year, there had been 17 deaths from the beginning of 2024 until Tuesday, while 65 people died due to tornadoes during the same period last year.

Nearly 15,000 homes and businesses were in the dark across Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois as of Thursday morning, according to

On Wednesday, a tornado hurtled through Temple, Texas – about 35 miles south of Waco – causing widespread power outages and making many roads dangerous or impassable. First responders were flooded with emergency requests and were prioritizing life-saving calls Wednesday night, the city said in a release announcing a disaster declaration. “Currently, no life-threatening injuries or fatalities have been reported,” the release said.

More than 125,000 homes and businesses in Texas were without power Thursday morning, including nearly 55,000 in Bell County, where Temple is located, according to

More than 200 homes destroyed in Iowa

The governor expanded her disaster declaration from 15 counties to 32 on Thursday, and said state officials are working with the FEMA to get the federal declaration approved, citing “a lot of destruction and damage across the state.”

“We’re going to process it as quickly as we can,” said FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell.

More than 200 homes were destroyed in Iowa, Reynolds said.

Greenfield and other parts of western Iowa bore the brunt of the storms’ catastrophic impacts: In Greenfield’s county, Adair, 153 homes were either damaged or destroyed, according to Reynolds.

A tornado also toppled a hulking wind turbine just south of Greenfield in Prescott, Iowa, and more than two dozen homes were damaged or destroyed in Montgomery County, including some “critical public facilities,” emergency management officials said. No injuries have been reported but damage assessments are still ongoing.

But Greenfield is the epicenter of Tuesday’s event.

“There is basically nothing left,” Clel Baudler, a former Iowa state representative who lives a half mile from Greenfield, told CNN on Tuesday.

Valerie Warrior, a Greenfield resident, pleaded with God to protect her home and her family before she rode out the storm in her basement, she told KCCI.

“I was in the furnace room and then I heard (the storm) like a train,” she said, describing insulation flying off of basement windows. “I heard it, and I knew it was hitting.”

Storm damage is seen in Greenfield, Iowa, on May 22, 2024. - Bill Kirkos/CNN
Storm damage is seen in Greenfield, Iowa, on May 22, 2024. - Bill Kirkos/CNN

Warrior said the scale of damage is devastating to see, but she is confident residents will pull each other through the crisis.

“They’ll get through it. You already see people out helping each other, working together. And that’s what they do, people come together when a tragedy happens. People come together to support and encourage each other.”

Fighting back tears, Warrior looked out the rubble strewn across her neighborhood and tried to crack a smile.

“We’ll rebuild,” she said. “We’ll rebuild.”

CNN’s Jessica Jordan, Sara Smart, Amy Simonson, Andy Rose, Brad Parks and Raja Razek contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at