Deadly Tornado Hits Boy Scout Camp in Iowa

by Jay Gray

NBC News

BLENCOE, IOWA - The Midwest is again dealing with deadly weather.

This time, tornadoes in Iowa that claimed the lives of four young men at a Boy Scout camp.

We've all heard the scouting motto "be prepared," but nothing could have prepared these teenaged boys for what happened here Wednesday night.

Splintered wood, crumbled bricks, and crushed cinder blocks, striking evidence of the violent winds that ripped-open this campsite.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says, "seems like the Boy Scouts didn't have a chance, because it came so fast and so hard. I could see a pickup truck flung like a child's toy."

It's devastation grown men struggle to understand but somehow, young boys managed to survive.

Boy Scout Zach Jessen says, "we got under the tables. I pulled kid underneath me, and then all of a sudden the tornado came and took the building."

The 93 teenagers at this camp from Iowa and Nebraska were some of the best the Boy Scouts have to offer.

They were part of a leadership training class, lessons they were suddenly forced to use.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver says "12, 13, 14 year olds were triaging themselves until they got the emergency management teams back there, because they are trained to do this."

But now, four of the young leaders won't be coming home.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman says, "it's a very very difficult situation to deal with to lose 3, a fourth one in Iowa young boys. The best of the best and we're all going to deal with that."

They are dealing with a similar situation in Kansas.

The same storm system spawned tornados that killed at least two people.

One of the twisters, all but erasing the tiny town of Chapman.

Almost lost in what the winds left behind, the fact that water continues to pour in to the saturated midwest.

At least 10,000 were evacuated in Cedar Rapids on Thursday as the raging current swallowed that city.

Michael Chertoff says, "this has been a remarkable onslaught of weather."

An attack that has only been off-set by the remarkable will of those in the Midwest struggling to survive.