LAKE CITY: A tornado struck Lake City about 4 p.m. Wednesday and caused widespread damage to trees, along with some buildings.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone was injured.
Jeff Sievers, who lives on the east edge of town, was outside of his house when the tornado loomed. The atmosphere completely changed, as if someone “flipped the switch,” he said.
“I did not see anything other than the clouds swirling,” Sievers said. “But as far as a black funnel, no, I saw nothing. It was (a gust of wind), and through she went.”
The tornado completely destroyed his barn, which had some chickens, ducks and goats inside.
“I can’t get in there to get them, and I’m not gonna go in there,” he said. “I don’t want the barn falling on me. There’s a few more animals coming out all the time, but I’m sure there’s some casualties. … So that’s life. It’ll go on.”
The severity of the tornado was not immediately known. There was no weather station in the path of the tornado to measure its wind speeds, said Chad Hahn, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, so the speeds will be estimated by examining the damage.
As the storm brewed, Shannon Mahannah took shelter in the locker rooms inside the Opportunity Living activity center on the east edge of town.
“It sounded like a train. A loud train, and I heard the walls crackling,” said Mahannah, the chief executive of Opportunity Living. “All of us are crammed into a shower in the locker rooms and hunkered down.”
The tornado hit a shed on the property, ripped doors off the building and damaged some of the vehicles inside. The building also stored food freezers and coolers because Opportunity Living was in the process of building new ones in a different location.
“I cannot believe the damage, and this was just a little tornado,” Mahannah said.
Damage from the tornado stretched across the entire town, although it appeared to be worse on the south and east sides of Lake City.
The tornado tore apart the metal roof of a shed that houses school buses on the west side of town and flung pieces of it nearly a quarter mile.
Skid loaders and other heavy equipment were used to clear scads of fallen trees and limbs from roadways. The tornado toppled several large-diameter trees.
Significant damage was reported at a house about a mile northeast of Lake City and at a turkey farm about 5 miles east, Hahn said.
The town was hit by another tornado in May 2015, which notably tore the roof off of South Central Calhoun High School. The National Weather Service rated that tornado an EF1, which means it had wind speeds of up to 110 mph.
Nearly 1,400 MidAmerican Energy customers in the area were without electricity after the Wednesday tornado, the company reported on its website.
Sievers, on the east side of town, was among those without electricity, he said, but he had a lot of people stop by his home to help clean up and pick up animals that managed to find their way out of his barn.
“You find out who your friends are, and there’s been a lot of them today,” he said.