OTTUMWA — So far, officials have not confirmed any deaths in Ottumwa due to the fierce storms Sunday. But there were injuries.
"We were called out on one case that may have been [electrical shock], but when we arrived on scene, the person had already been transported by private vehicle," said Tony Miller, the Ottumwa Fire Department fire chief.
Residents said the storm seemed to hit hardest earlier than anticipated. Around town, outdoor activities were still taking place. One event was an outdoor auction and sale on West Mary Street.
The Ottumwa Fire Department responded to a medial call on West Mary Street just after 3 p.m., where multiple people were injured on the south side.
A spokesman for Ottumwa Regional Health Center, Jeff Atwood, said in total, the storm injured 20 people in Ottumwa. They had to call in extra health care staff to deal with the flood of patients.
As for what weather event injured them, a National Weather Service team is investigating.
Some residents questioned why tornado sirens did not sound during the worst of Sunday's weather. The city of Ottumwa's public information officer, Tom Rodgers, said there was a lot of talk about the subject.
That prompted him to issue a statement early Monday. He said some of the rumors come from confusion over what kicks off the tornado sirens.
"Activation requires either a tornado warning issued by the NWS or visual verification from a credible, NWS-trained weather spotter," wrote Rodgers.
He sent out a mass mailing to police, all city council members and the media: "Been hearing a lot of talk about what happened ... all protocols were followed to the letter and no one dropped the ball."
There was no National Weather Service "tornado warning" issued for Wapello County. That's why the Outdoor Warning Siren was not activated.
He said NOAA Weather Radio and Emergency Alert System (EAS) announcements were made in a timely fashion with all information available at that time.
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