Iowa County Declared Disaster Area After Tornado

Emergency crews early Sunday sifted through the wreckage left behind by a wave of tornadoes that swept across Iowa before midnight.

One of the twisters caused enough damage to prompt Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad to issue a disaster proclamation in Monona County, according to a statement released by the governor's office.

The proclamation allows officials to use state funds to help.

Authorities said the extent of the damage is unclear because the twister struck at night. Stefanie Bond, a public information officer for the state's Homeland Security & Emergency Management Division, said the National Guard is in Mapleton. Bond also said that natural gas service has temporarily been shut off in the city.

Amateur video recorded by storm chasers shows a large funnel cloud spinning across a flat terrain outside Mapleton.

In the background, a passenger can be heard exclaiming, "It's going to hit that town! ... Mapleton's in big trouble!"

The National Weather Service in Des Moines reported tornado sightings by storm chasers and trained spotters in as many as 11 towns and cities northern and west central Iowa over a four-hour period Saturday night.

At least three of the twisters, including the Mapleton tornado, caused significant damage, according to Frank Boksa, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

In Early, a town of 1,600 residents, a tornado ripped roofs off buildings and homes and uprooted large trees, authorities said. There were no reports of injuries in that town. In Schaller, a twister knocked down a dozen trees and felled multiple power poles, the weather service reported.

The National Weather Service also reported major damage in Nemaha, possibly from a tornado.

Tammie Pech, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said the agency is opening shelters in Mapleton and Early to take in storm victims.