Severe storm hits Ames, leaves residents with power outages and damage

A severe storm hit Ames early Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Winds caused damage to a lot of property, including this garage located on Orion Drive in North Ames. 

Photo: Katherine Klingseis/Iowa State Daily

A severe storm hit Ames early Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Winds caused damage to a lot of property, including this garage located on Orion Drive in North Ames. 

Frances Myers

Ames residents and ISU students woke up in the early hours of Wednesday morning to strong winds and power outages in parts of Ames. 

Around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Pooja Gupta, graduate in veterinary microbiology and prevention medicine, woke up in her apartment on Orion Drive when she heard high winds and saw lightning flash.

“I could see the lightning strike right outside our window and it shook the whole apartment,” Gupta said. “Decks of some apartments broke and are kind of hanging. There was lot of damage to the roof of the apartment and the first garage, which is what smashed into my car. I was worried for my car, but everyone was quite scared to even approach the gate. The alarms were on and, without power, we were finding it difficult to think.”

Not knowing what else to do, Gupta called 911 to come shut off the alarms.

“After the power came back on, I went outside to find the wreck of my car,” Gupta said. “Trees, power line poles and traffic lights were on the ground. Clean up and restoration started very quickly though. I am still in somewhat of a shock.”

Gupta’s car, a 2006 Toyota Corolla, was declared totaled by her insurance company from the damage.

“The whole left side is completely smashed,” she said. “The top portion has broken and fallen inside the car.”

The storm was announced by the National Weather Service to be equal to an EF 0 Tornado with winds of up to 85 miles per hour.

“It was very scary while it lasted, more so because we know we do not have any kind shelter in our apartment if tornado struck,” Gupta said.

Gupta’s apartment is near Bloomington Road in Ames, which is where Wednesday’s storm hit an electric line.

“Damage to an electric transmission line at the corner of Bloomington and Grand Avenue tripped a breaker creating an outage affecting more than 1,000 Ames Electric Services customers,” said Susan Gwiasda, public relations officer for the city of Ames. “Severe weather and strong winds damaged property and created electric outages around Ames early Wednesday morning with the most severe damage in the northern part of the city.”

Gwiasda said the power went out around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and was restored around 4 a.m. People began reporting damage around 2 a.m. Gwiasda said the most severe damage was reported in the northern part of Ames.

“Downed trees, street lights, and damage to homes and garages were reported to Ames police beginning at 1:54 a.m. Wednesday,” Gwiasda said.

According to a press release from the Story County Emergency Management Agency, “the forecast for the next couple of days include unsettled weather with the chance of more thunderstorms. The recent storms highlights the importance of ensuring that trees near structures and power lines are trimmed to reduce the possibility of falling branches damaging structures or vehicles.

Additionally, homeowners should survey their yards to identify items that may become projectiles in high winds and ensure they are properly secured. It is essential that all homes have properly programmed and tested weather radios to alert the occupants to the danger of fast moving storms or tornadoes.”

Gwiasda encouraged people to be aware that this time of year poses a greater possibility of severe storms.

“City employees will continue to monitor the weather for any sudden changes. Residents should remember the sirens are an outdoor warning system,” Gwiasda said. “They are designed to alert people outdoors to seek shelter because the National Weather Service is reporting a tornado in or near Ames.”

Gwiasda also recommended that residents have weather radios, which can be bought online or at several department stores. 

Gupta said the storm came as quite a shock to her and she hopes to be ready in case anything else happens.

“I never though that it would happen to me,” Gupta said. “The monetary loss plus the shock has just destroyed this year for me. But all said, we are all glad that no one was hurt.”