Tornadoes rip through Iowa, Illinois

Tornadoes tore across the state of Iowa, ripped walls off an Iowa City church and killed a woman in a mobile home.

The National Weather Service said five tornados touched down in the area on Thursday night, the most destructive carving a 3Ѕ-mile path of damage through downtown Iowa City and the University of Iowa. High winds, hail and at least one tornado hit Illinois as well.

"There was debris flying everywhere inside the house," said Melissa Fortman, an college student who huddled with friends in the basement of her sorority house as the sirens sounded. She then decided to run upstairs for her homework just as the tornado hit.

"I couldn't go down stairs because there was debris and glass flying up the stairs, so I just hid in a telephone booth we have in our house and I just hid there crying," she told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Entire walls of the sorority house were gone and the interior of several rooms were visible from the street. Two cars had been tossed into a nearby ravine, and glass, debris and tree limbs littered the neighborhood.

The twisters swept across eastern Iowa, the National Weather Service said.

He said the tornado hit farms and a mobile home with a man and woman inside.

"It blew it off the foundation and the trailer rolled and basically disintegrated," White said. The woman, whose identity was not released, died in the storm.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack declared a state of emergency for three counties.

In Iowa City, 30 people were reported treated at hospitals for storm-related injuries.

In downtown Iowa City, half the roof of St. Patrick's Catholic Church was torn off. Thousands of homes in Iowa and Illinois were without power, but utility officials said it was expected to be restored by midday Saturday, reports AP.


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