>While I saw all sorts of good things in my meanderings about Iowa City, I also saw the very depressing downside of living in a flat state in the Midwest along tornado alley. Earlier this year, a quick succession of tornados tore through Iowa City and surrounding towns in one night. My sister and brother-in-law were very lucky. They did not hear about the tornado alert and were driving around running errands that night. When they got to a pharmacy, they were puzzled to see that the store was closing despite the early hour. The pharmacist stopped them as they were coming in and essentially asked them what the fuck they were doing going to the pharmacy when a tornado was heading right for town.
They drove home as fast as they could during the violent rain storm that proceeded the tornados. When they arrived, they grabbed their two cats and went into their basement, as any Midwesterner worth their salt would do. Since there is a huge plate glass window down there, they turned the volume up on the TV as loud as it would go and shut themselves in their windowless laundry room to wait it out, much to the protestations of the clueless cats.
Tornados are random. One side of a block can be devastated, but the other side can be perfectly unharmed. Fortunately, their entire townhouse complex was spared the wrath of Mother Nature. Homes a mere three blocks away, and all over spots of town, were not so lucky however. I took some pictures of the damage that I saw, but this is only a fraction of it. The house below is actually a sorority house. In some ways, it is a little less of a tragedy because it is not like some family is homeless now, but it is still awful to see what happened. Importantly, no one was hurt. The women were all huddled in the basement like they should, and got out safely as a result. I think this is the worst structural damage that I saw, though, so they were really lucky to be unhurt.