Residents of Thurman say early warnings saved lives


April 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

THURMAN, Iowa (AP) — One resident says it looks “like World War III” in Thurman following a tornado that damaged at least 75 percent of the homes in the small town. But people are giving thanks because no one died. The only injuries reported are cuts and bruises. Thurman Mayor Rod Umphreys says city officials sounded the tornado sirens six or seven minutes before the twister with 135 mile-per-hour winds swept into town Saturday evening. Residents also received warnings through Code RED, an emergency system used by Fremont County that sends alerts to subscriber cellphones. Umphreys says the combined warnings likely saved lives, as the tornado was shrouded in rain. Larry Hill, who barricaded himself in a closet as the roof was torn from his home, says he’d been paying close attention to weather warnings for days and was as ready as he could be for the storm.

The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Thurman Saturday night was an EF-2 on the Fujita Scale of winds and destruction. The twister touched down about 2-miles north of Percival and tracked for 10-miles before dissipating about a mile south of Tabor.Officials say the tornado was one-half mile wide.