Officials in Mapleton, Iowa, said it will take months to recover from the tornado that destroyed about 100 homes on Saturday evening and displaced nearly half of the town's 1,200 residents. Miraculously, injuries were minor and there were no fatalities.
"I think we should have had fatalities and we didn't," Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt said. "I guess I believe in the good Lord and He saved this town," he said.
The tornado that decimated Mapleton was one of 38 twisters over a weekend that included 600 severe weather reports around the country.
The National Weather Service said the tornado measured on the lower side of an EF3, with wind speeds between 136 to 165 mph. It was on the ground for approximately 3.5 miles and was three-quarters of a mile wide at one point.
The tornado pulled the town's huge Maple trees -- for which it was named out -- of the ground, tossing them onto cars and houses, The Associated Press reported.
"I was at this window and it flung me from there to here - to right here," resident John Dise said.
Mapleton Mayor Fred Standa said no one in the town had ever experienced such devastation.
"It's not a pretty sight," Standa said. "It's something nobody has seen in this town."
Homeowner Wayne Werner said he too had "never seen anything like this."
"It's all gone," Werner said. "It's just something else. I don't want to go through it again," he said.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad promised the state would help residents with the severe losses suffered on Saturday evening.