When I found out, I phoned friends and family right away. Naturally, I couldn't get my brother on the phone. I'll try again later on today but I have been told that he is fine. He still lives in Mount Vernon and that is miles from Iowa City.
I did manage to get Renee on the phone. She said that she was teaching a class (U of I history dept) when the sirens went off. She said that she actually saw the funnel cloud. I'm glad she got to see it from a safe place. All the years and years I spent in the mid-west, I never actually saw a tornado until I moved to Scotland. Go figure. The tornado I saw was up on the hills behind the house. It was too small to warrant panic or even classification, but it sure was a tornado.
Renee said that her husband Davey and son Max were safe at home but they heard the roof from Menards (a lumber and DIY store/warehouse) getting ripped off by the wind. It is in this section of town, next to the river that the Dairy Queen is located. It was positively flattened by the tornado. The walls are completely gone. All that is left are the refrigerators and the front counter. The Kum & Go (convenience store with very unfortunate name) that is mere yards away was left without a scratch. Tornados are perverse that way. I've been told that the owners of the DQ are committed to rebuilding. (whew!)
There are only a few things one can do on a very hot summer evening to get cool if you don't have the luxury of air conditioning. 1) Go to the movies. Two hours of dark and cool plus you get a movie and the smell of freshly popped popcorn. 2) Drive to the Dairy Queen or Dane's Dairy for an ice cream. I like both ice cream places for different things. The Dairy Queen has Buster Bars and Dilly Bars - two of the top ice cream bars in the world. Dane's Dairy always has a long line of cars waiting to buy ice cream at the drive up window. They have great ice cream but I think the real reason for the long queues is that the dairy gives out a small dish of ice cream to every dog that visits. You can see in every other car, the family dogs going berserk in the back seats knowing they're in for a treat.
The other thing I saw that was upsetting was the photographs of St Patrick's on Court Street. The roof has been all but ripped clean off! Its such a nice church to walk to on a sunny summer morning. I didn't realize until I was reading the news from the Iowa City Press Citizen that there is a Spanish language mass that is held on Sunday afternoons. How cool is that? Father Rudolph Juarez is holding Mass at Regina High School for the time being. Say a prayer for the folks whose lives have been upset by this tornado.