Iowa co-ops recover from weekend tornadoes

tornado-ravaged farm yard

Photo by Marena Fritzler.

Tornados caused severe damage in scattered locations across northwest and central Iowa on Saturday, April 9, leaving parts of one small town in rubble and damaging the transmission systems of Basin Electric Class A member cooperatives Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) and Corn Belt Power Cooperative. Remarkably, there was no loss of life and few serious injuries were reported.

transmission lines taken down by a tornado

Broken Poles on Corn Belt Power's transmission line. Photo by Marena Fritzler.

In Mapleton, population about 1,200, the tornado destroyed 142 homes and many businesses. Flying debris damaged the city’s municipal substation, taking it out of service. NIPCO supplies the municipal electric company’s power, and brought in a portable substation to bring power back to the town.

Tornadoes also blew through Corn Belt Power’s system. The cooperative lost close to 50 transmission poles, sustaining more than $1 million in damages. Visit Corn Belt Power’s Facebook page to see many outstanding photos of crews repairing lines.

linemen replace pole

NIPCO crews remove a stubborn pole.

Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, a member of Corn Belt Power and Basin Electric, had three substations and the approximately 500 members out of power immediately after the storm. Crews from seven neighboring cooperatives helped Raccoon Valley with repairs.

Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, a member of Corn Belt Power, NIPCO and Basin Electric, reported approximately 2,000 members in Pocahontas and Cherokee counties who lost power due to the storm.

A tornado near Pocahontas was filmed at night by storm chasers Scott Peake, Kevin Rolfs and Colt Forney.

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