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Severe storms rip through Adair, Union counties

A steady stream of straight-line winds crumple a handful of grain bins Thursday along REA Road in rural Union County during a severe thunderstorm warning.
A steady stream of straight-line winds crumple a handful of grain bins Thursday along REA Road in rural Union County during a severe thunderstorm warning.

GREENFIELD – Adair County residents were left with lots to clean up Thursday afternoon after severe storms blasted the area just before 11 a.m.

The storms, which entered the state in the Harrison and Monona County areas, brought dark storm clouds to the area that made the Greenfield square pitch black like night, though it was daytime.

Once the cluster of storms arrived, they brought sheets of rain with destructive straight-line winds, some in excess of 65 mph.

“The storms fired overnight in Nebraska. We had quite a bit of support for them over southern Iowa in the warm, moist air mass that was heading north to bring us our heat we’ll realize over the next few days. They kind of fed on that instability from the heat and humidity and got trucking,” said Jeff Johnson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Johnston. “As is often the case in late June, we quite often get storms that are prolific wind producers. This was just like that.”

There were numerous downed trees in several area communities, as some fell on power lines. A house south of Greenfield was reportedly damaged as well as out buildings on several farms, like Carol Baudler’s a few miles north of Fontanelle.

“We were scraping a hoop building. I was helping Jordan [Grove, my son in law], and we were trying to shut gates. I heard the flapping of the tarps thinking they were tearing, but really, the rafters were collapsing, too,” Baudler said. “We jumped in the tractor, then he was going to hide in the shed and I said, ‘No, hide behind the grain bins, they’re full of grain.’ That’s where we drove the tractor and stayed behind it. It was still rocking the tractor back and forth. It was blowing hard.”

Robert Kempf, Emergency Management director for Adair and Guthrie counties, was in Greenfield in the center of all the cleanup efforts. A gas leak was quickly resolved by the Greenfield Fire Department on the square, and firefighters, city employees, Nodaway Valley student athletes, area construction workers and others were all assisting those who needed help in cleaning up.

Nodaway Valley’s football team had a large amount of its players out helping with storm damage cleanup, including Tyler Vandewater.

“Being part of a team and a small community like Greenfield, when something happens like this storm, you know people will come together and be there for other members of their community,” Vandewater said. “It gave the football team and I a chance to help out and give back. It’s the least we can do because we know they will all be out supporting us on Friday nights this fall.”

Kempf was able to give a detailed recap of all the damages he’d seen across the county.

“The majority of it is trees and power lines. We do have some homes that had trees hit them or vehicles. You get out into the county and there’s just a ton of crop damage. There are some residences out in the county that have machine sheds that are missing part of their roof and several semi trailers, grain bins or augers that were tipped over,” Kempf said. “As far as electric, there was a two-block area in Greenfield [as of 5 p.m. Thursday] that was still being worked on, otherwise folks in Greenfield, if their service line is up and OK, they should have power.”

In Union County, several grain bins were destroyed by the straight-line winds, while corn stalks were bent to the southeast.

A young, healthy pine tree along South Sumner Avenue in Creston, near Kilgore’s, was snapped in half. Several large trees in McKinley Park also fell victim to Thursday’s storm, while tree limbs were down throughout the city.

CNA Managing Editor Scott Vicker contributed to this report.

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