abc
QUICK LINKS:

Damage, 1 Injury after Tornado Hits Small SD Town

Updated: 06/19/2014 10:28 AM
Created: 06/19/2014 10:22 AM WDIO.com

WESSINGTON SPRINGS, S.D. (AP) - A tornado hit a small town in central South Dakota on Wednesday night, damaging homes, destroying several businesses and injuring one person, according to the National Weather Service and local officials.

Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp said law enforcement in Wessington Springs reported the tornado went right "through the heart of town" just before 8 p.m.

Dedrich Koch, a county prosecutor who serves as a spokesman for the city during emergency operations, said late Wednesday night that everyone in town had been accounted for.

Koch said the tornado alarms in the city sounded several times and allowed residents to head to the city's emergency shelter that is located in the basement of the courthouse. He said three businesses were destroyed and 11 or 12 houses are inhabitable.

"Right now we are securing areas and keeping people from going in out the damaged areas," Koch said. "We'll assess damage and cleanup in the morning when we get some light."

Among the businesses destroyed were the American Legion, a bar and an auto dealer, and several farms were damaged.

Lindsey Meyers, spokeswoman for Avera Health, which operates the hospital in Wessington Springs, said one patient in good condition is being treated as a result of the tornado.

Meyers said the hospital has some broken windows and is operating on backup power.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard issued a statement saying that he deployed 100 South Dakota National Guard soldiers and equipment to Wessington Springs. Daugaard arrived in the town, which is about 125 miles northwest of Sioux Falls and has a population of about 1,000, late Wednesday.

Koch said most of the displaced families are spending the night with relatives or other members of the community. He added that the city will remain without power overnight but backup generators were available. He also said the Red Cross will be providing bedding and food services for those in need.

Jaime Hoefert, of Wessington Springs, told KELO-TV she saw the tornado move over hills and through the town.

"We did see at least three homes destroyed with lots of structural damage around that area on the south side of town," Hoefert said.

Father Jim Friedrich said the Catholic church in town was not affected by the tornado. He said people in the community are thankful that nobody was seriously injured.

"We do see our blessings right away," said Friedrich, who's been preaching at St. Joseph's Catholic Church for eight years. "It was very serious damage. What it hit, it hit very hard. That's just why we are thankful that there was good warning."

Multiple calls to the Jerauld County Sheriff's Office rang busy, and calls to the county emergency management office went unanswered.

National Weather Service meteorologist Philip Schumacher said two other confirmed tornadoes had touched down nearby in South Dakota: one near the city of Lane and another near Alpena. He also said another tornado had touched down in Marshall, Minnesota.

There were no reports of damage from those tornadoes, he said.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Front Page

  • MN Congressional Delegation and Lt. Gov. Meet at White House About Steel Imports

    Minnesota's federal lawmakers met with officials at the White House on Friday, to press their case about the problem of steel imports.

  • Gogebic Taconite Withdraws Wisconsin Application

    The state Department of Natural Resources says a company that was looking to open a huge iron mine in northern Wisconsin has officially withdrawn its plans. Gogebic Taconite was considering digging a 4½-mile long mine in the Penokee Hills just south of Lake Superior but announced last month it was closing its office in Hurley and future investment in the project wasn't feasible.

  • Girls-Only Shop Class Aims to Narrow Industry Gender Gaps

    More women are now pursuing STEM fields, but there's still huge gender gaps in industries like manufacturing, machining and carpentry. a girls-only shop class at one Northland high school might be a way to change that.

  • Up, Up, and Away: Rare View of Duluth from Hot Air Balloon

    Duluth residents were treated to a fairly rare sight over the city on Friday afternoon: two hot air balloons. The pair took off from Bayfront Festival Park around 4:15 p.m. as an effort to drum up excitement about this year's hot air balloon festival in September.

  • FEMA Awards Grant to Lake County to Mitigate Structure Fires

    FEMA has awarded Lake County, Minnesota over $500,000 in a grant for the addition of metal roofing to 65 residential and commercial structures. Construction on some of the buildings can start as soon as the roofing season in northeastern Minnesota begins.

 
Advertisement