NEOLA, Iowa (KMTV) — Neola, Iowa was hit with a storm Wednesday night that is suspected to have been a tornado. Many in the small city say they weren't expecting such extensive damage sustained by such a short period of time.
"It was just unbelievable, because I did think it just blew over and that was the end of it until I got a phone call and I was like 'oh my goodness', that it happened that fast in a matter of minutes," said Mayor of Neola Karla Pogge. "I don’t know. I keep saying it was unbelievable, but it kind of is."
Officials say power lines were down, there was damage to buildings and even a gas leak.
"I’ve been here for six years and we train every year," Nathan Andersen, training captain for the Neola Fire Department, said. "We do storm-spotting, we have an app we go over year and after year we’ve been lucky to miss all the storms going by us but as far as damage goes this is by far the worst."
Officials say despite the extensive damage, community members were out early Thursday morning to clean up most of it.
Two businesses right off of the main street in Neola, Zimmerman's and Fred's, are two buildings in Neola that suffered extensive damage that officials say will take quite some time to fix.
Some of the debris from the two buildings flew onto surrounding properties, getting stuck in trees.
Local business owner Joe Turner said the damage to his building wasn't too bad, so he walked over to help at Zimmerman's and Fred's.
"These two employ a lot of people, and just the recovery effort of getting their business back up and running and Fred across the street, it’s going to be a long time," Turner said.
Most power in the city has returned but officials say they're hoping that electricity will be completely restored by the end of the weekend.