five, were reported in Madison County, Diogenes Ayala, the director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency, said at a news conference.
Four other people were injured in Madison County, Ayala said. Three of them are in serious condition and one who was transferred to a hospital in Des Moines with life-threatening injuries.
“This is the worst that I think anyone has seen in quite a long time,” Ayala said. “This is rare.”
The seventh death was reported in Chariton, a city in nearby Lucas County, while two people suffered injuries in Polk County, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Officials said that dozens of homes were lost to damage from the tornados which also downed power lines in the area leaving some without power.
“The best thing the community can do is just to not go to these areas,” Ayala said. “Let people that are living there. Let them clean up and give them some space. This is pretty devastating for our community.”
The National Weather Service said in a statement that Iowa had at least three thunderstorms producing tornados, but it remains unknown exactly how many tornadoes occurred.
“Initial interrogation of photos and videos from around Winterset suggests at least EF3 tornado damage occurred late Saturday afternoon,” the agency said.
“NWS survey teams will be out Sunday to thoroughly investigate the damage and further assess a potential rating.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for Madison County late Saturday in response the tornados that will allow for state resources to be used to assist with response and recovery efforts.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected by the deadly storms that tore through our state today,” she said. “Kevin and I join with Iowans in prayer for those that lost their lives and those injured. Our hearts ache during this time, but I know Iowans will step up and come together to help in this time of need — they already are.”