Shown above are several photos taken in the wake of a tornado that caused extensive damaged throughout Lake City on July 14. [Tyler Anderson/The Graphic-Advocate]
Tyler Anderson
Editor, The Graphic-Advocate

Tornado strikes Lake City, leaves residents without power

June 28, 1979. May 10, 2015. July 15, 2021.

In Calhoun County, those dates are now forever linked together, due to the wrath of Mother Nature.

At approximately 4 p.m. on Wednesday and lasting no more than two minutes' time, a tornado and the resulting change of air pressure caused extensive damage in the southern, western and eastern portions of Lake City. Several acreages were also hit by the storm on Wednesday afternoon.

While the tornado damaged multiple structures, downed trees and knocked down several power lines, there were no reported injuries. Due to the toppled lines, however, many residents were left without electricity.

According to the National Weather Service, the twister was classified as an EF-3, with estimated peak winds at 136 mph to 145 mph. The path length of the tornado was approximately 10 miles.

Lake City's latest run-in with severe weather was part of a series of tornadoes and strong storms that swept through the state of Iowa on Wednesday. Within The Graphic-Advocate area, tornado sirens blared not only in Lake City, but also in Rockwell City, Lohrville and Lytton.

"(The damage) was too close for comfort," said Brad Anderson, Lake City resident and Superintendent of the South Central Calhoun Community School District. "We lost a good portion of the bus barn, and the scariest part was that (the tornado) dropped a half block away from home. I'm just thankful that nobody that I know of was hurt."

Along with the SCC High School bus barn receiving damage, Opportunity Living also took some damage to one of its buildings.

"All clients and staff are safe," said Shannon Mahannah, CEO of the Lake City-based intermediate care facility. "The buildings weren't so lucky. But things can be replaced, people cannot."

Stewart Memorial Community Hospital had minimal damage from the storm, but had to switch over to generator power overnight.

Other parts of town that took the brunt of the tornado were trees and homes located off of South Street, Front Street, Jackson Street, Olive Street and areas located south of Main Street. The downed trees and power lines prompted crews from the Lake City Public Works Department, first responders and MidAmerican Energy representatives to begin cleanup.

On Wednesday evening, the City of Lake City informed the public via social media that the Lake City Fire Station was available for visitors without electricity to cool down overnight.

By Thursday morning, power had been restored throughout Lake City.

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office also detoured traffic coming from the west of Lake City through Thursday and Friday to allow line crews to restore power within city limits. Vehicles were diverted to County Road N28 and County Road D46.

Until Friday afternoon, access into town was limited to County Road N41 and County Road N37.

As portions of Lake City were closed to traffic, the South Central Calhoun football team went into action, and helped residents clear out downed limbs from a multitude of yards. The Titans had a morning group to clear branches, while an afternoon group aided Opportunity Living.

To dispose of tree debris, the City of Lake City had advised residents to take their broken limbs to the pasture located off of Harris Avenue, southwest of Lake City.

This past Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for 10 counties impacted by the severe weather. Calhoun County was one of those 10 counties designated in the decree.

In the proclamation, “the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses.”

Within the edict, original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website, located at

Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.

Also offered within the proclamation is the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program, which sees disaster case managers work with those affected to create a disaster recovery plan. The case manager would then provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource.

There are no income eligibility requirements for this program, and it closes 180 days from the date of the governor's proclamation.

For information on the Disaster Case Management Program, contact your local community action association or visit


The Graphic-Advocate

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Lake City, IA 51449
Phone: 712-464-3188

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