Storm kills 1 in Minnesota; 20 missing

May 25, 2008 7:21:36 PM PDT
Severe thunderstorms packing large hail and possible tornadoes rumbled across the nation's midsection on Sunday, killing at least one person, injuring nine others and damaging dozens of homes. At least 20 people were unaccounted for after a swift storm blew through the St. Paul suburb of Hugo, damaging about four dozen homes, City Administrator Mike Ericson said. Many of them could be out of town for the holiday weekend, he said.

Ericson said a 2-year-old child died.

"It's horrible," Ericson said. "The citizens are very shook and scared."

Hugo Fire Chief Jim Compton said nine people, including a child in critical condition, were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

Residents reported a tornado touching down in the area, but that hadn't been confirmed by the National Weather Service.

Emergency crews descended on the town to look for those who hadn't been accounted for and to assess the damage.

Hugo Public Works Director Chris Petree said his family took shelter in the basement before the storm lifted his house off the ground and completely wiped out the second floor.

"I put my daughter down first, my wife on top of her and then I bear-hugged on top of them," Petree said.

As he huddled in his basement against a foundation wall with his wife and 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Petree said they heard the thunderous sound of their house coming off the ground.

"All you hear is glass breaking and wood tearing and breaking in half," Petree said.

In northeastern Iowa, at least six people were injured, one critically, when a possible tornado touched down near Parkersburg, authorities said.

Jim Waterbury, a spokesman for Allen Hospital in Waterloo, said people came from nearby Grundy Center, Aplington and Eldora for treatment of mild to moderate injuries.

"It looks like most of them are fractures and broken collarbones," Butler County sheriff's department said. "One is in critical condition."

Officials opened Parkersburg's elementary school for evacuees.

A possible tornado also struck the nearby town of Dunkerton, with reports of structures damaged in both cities and in rural Black Hawk County.

Power lines have also been knocked down in the area, leaving many residents without power.