One death, three injuries as tornado crushes a food pantry

Thursday, April 12, 2001

One of a series of tornadoes that struck southern Iowa on Wednesday tore through a small community food pantry in Agency, just east of Ottumwa, leaving a volunteer dead and injuring three others.

Rescue workers had to dig through a pile of rubble to reach the victims. The name of the person killed was not immediately released. The other three were rushed by ambulance to Ottumwa Hospital, one in critical condition with broken bones and multiple trauma.

Diane Gibson, 58, was being evaluated after being thrown some distance by the tornado.

The community hall that housed the food pantry was flattened by the storm. An old piano sat on the foundation in the middle of the rubble, the only thing left standing. A fifth woman had hidden behind the piano and suffered only minor injuries.

The twister ripped through a three-block area, destroying two homes and damaging 56 more. About a half mile to the north, a shed had been lifted and flipped upside down in the middle of a muddy field.

One witness said the tornado followed a heavy rain squall, with little warning and almost no noise.

Read the rest of this story in the 10/12 Pilot Tribune.

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