Pottawattamie County officials confirming number of tornadoes, assessing damage

A strong storm on Wednesday night has caused significant damage after at least one tornado was confirmed to touch down in Pott. County.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 3:44 PM CST
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NEOLA, Iowa (WOWT) - Emergency management officials reported one tornado ran along the Interstate 80 corridor between Council Bluffs and Neola Wednesday evening in Pottawattamie County.

One resident, Wes Zimmerman, submitted a video to 6 News that shows the powerful storm coming through the area and taking out a trucking company right next to his family business.

Pottawattamie Emergency Management believes this storm also caused property damage to several homes in the county. Officials are working to determine if there were other twisters that touched down in county lines.

“We do have pretty good eye witness information on a possible second tornado out in the east end of our county that looks like it occurred as well,” said Doug Reed, Emergency Director of Pottawattamie County. “So we’ll be out surveying those areas today too to get that one confirmed up and we’re seeing a third kind of distinct path of damage with tree damage, power lines down.”

The Pott County Emergency Management Department has more than 980 square miles to cover but says they believe a lot of the storm damage stayed close to home.

Communities in southwestern Iowa near Pottawattamie County are busy assessing damages the day after strong wind storms and tornadoes tore through the state.

That includes Underwood — crews are still working to get the lights back on. Officials reported extensive power line damage.

Residents are also busy cleaning up debris left behind by the storm. One homeowner is thankful the storm only caused property damage — her husband Erick was upstairs when the storm blew in.

“We just heard a lot of noise,” said homeowner and wife Nikki Tiarks. “We’re yelling for him to come down downstairs to be safe and we heard the glass break.”

Another homeowner had some of his roof’s shingles blown into the street. He says the storm didn’t take long to cause significant damage.

“It just sounded like a big boom, like somebody beating on top of the house, it was really loud but in five seconds it was gone,” said Dick Brown.

Brown also lost his skylights and gutters — his neighbors lost their entire second floor. Some of it now sits in Brown’s yard.

“I couldn’t believe it, especially in December,” Brown said. “A tornado in December — never heard of that, not up here.”

Zimmerman’s sales building also took a major hit. He says he has yet to check out the severity of it.

“I haven’t got to the extent of it, we’ve been helping the neighbors out,” Zimmerman said. “But we’ll be fine.”

“A storm like this is what brings everybody together in the community. If you look around there’s multiple skid loaders from outside of town, just brings the whole community together and I know everybody will come back from it.”

Pottawattamie County officials are asking residents or businesses to report property damage related to the storm to their website. That information will help support a statewide disaster declaration of the damages required for statewide federal dollars to recover from the storm.

Places like Neola, IA, are devastated by the damages caused by Wednesday's storm but remain thankful for their communities.

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