Austin residents cleaning up after tornadoby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
Austin, Minn. — Residents of the southern Minnesota city of Austin have started cleaning up this morning after a round of tornadoes tossed vehicles, damaged homes and knocked down power lines Wednesday night.
Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp said businesses in the northern part of the city suffered "fairly significant" damage, but there were no serious injuries and only one person checked into the hospital with lacerations. Philipp surveyed the damage by car and helicopter this morning.
"It's all about the cleanup today," Philipp said. "Certainly, there are a lot of roofs that are gone, but it did not look to me like terribly significant structural damage to the homes."
By midmorning, utility crews had restored power to approximately 75 percent of homes, Philipp said, after most of the city had gone without power through the night.
Most businesses were expected to open Thursday morning, while city crews continue to clear debris from blocked streets.
"A lot of people are out and about," Philipp said. "Unfortunately, too many gawkers. But for the most part everybody is going about business as usual."
Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm said it appeared two or three tornadoes -- and possibly up to five -- had hit.
"It kind of developed on top of us," Stiehm said. "It just kind of 'boom,' it was just there and the intensity got real bad."
The National Weather Service said a tornado appeared to touch down in Austin about 8 p.m., sending debris flying. The storm flipped cars on their sides and sent trees through roofs. It also flipped a semi on its side and a knocked out the out building of a local lumberyard.
Philipp said he saw two tornado touchdowns Wednesday night, and a third he saw at a distance of about 100 yards.
In south-central Nebraska, one of several apparent tornadoes also struck a pet products plant west of Aurora and a nearby house. No major injuries were reported.
Philipp said it's still unclear what the total damages.
"I wouldn't even want to put a number on that yet," he said.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)