Tornado damages homes and businesses in
South Dakota town
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[June 19, 2014]
By Ann Nachtigal
SIOUX FALLS S.D. (Reuters) - A tornado
plowed through the heart of a small town in eastern South Dakota on
Wednesday, causing heavy damage to numerous homes and businesses, but no
serious injuries were reported, weather and emergency management
The twister struck the town of Wessington Springs, about 125 miles
(200 km) northwest of Sioux Falls, shortly before 8 p.m. local time,
ripping walls and roofs from buildings, knocking some structures
from their foundations and flipping cars through the air, officials
Kristi Sandal, a spokeswoman for the state's emergency operations
center in the state capital of Pierre, said one person was reported
trapped in debris but was not badly hurt.
She quoted Jerauld County spokesman Dedrich Koch as telling a local
television station that three businesses in Wessington Springs, a
community of about 950 residents, were destroyed and about a dozen
homes sustained extensive damage.
"There is considerable damage to both homes and businesses," Todd
Heitkamp, a storm warning coordination meteorologist with the
National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, told Reuters. "Homes have
lost walls and roofs and vehicles were thrown around."
He said the Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Jerauld
County at least 20 minutes before the twister struck.
Governor Dennis Daugaard ordered 100 soldiers from the state's
National Guard to assist with search and rescue and clean-up
operations in Wessington Springs, his office said in a statement.
In addition to damage to homes, farms and commercial buildings,
downed power lines in the area posed an ongoing safety hazard, the
The tornado struck two days after the small Nebraska town of Pilger
was raked by a twister that killed at least one person and injured
more than a dozen others.
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On Wednesday evening, a cluster of severe storms packing winds up to
90 miles per hour and hailstones produced tornados in South Dakota
and North Dakota, National Weather Service forecaster Chris Broyles
There have been nearly 30 reports of tornados across the nation,
largely in Midwestern states, as well as reports of extensive wind
damage throughout the Great Lakes region.
"I'm still shaking. I'm really just in shock," said Carol Steichen,
who had been golfing at a Wessington Springs golf course when people
came screaming, "get off the course, there is a tornado coming."
Steichen, who along with other golfers sheltered in a home across
the street from the course, said she later saw papers and belongings
strewn about and emergency vehicles roaring into town.
"It was so scary," she said.
(Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson from Seattle; Writing by
Steve Gorman and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Matt Driskill)
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