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Damage, 1 injury after tornado hits small SD town



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.

Schumacher said tornado watches are in effect for southern Minnesota until 4 a.m. CDT.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
cgssnavickas June 19 2014 at 10:57 AM

Just happy to hear that this tornado didn't cost the residents of Wessington Springs any lives. Tornados are frightening, no matter how many times you may have experienced them. Businesses and homes can be rebuilt...Lives cannot.

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marekin2000 June 19 2014 at 9:34 AM

War is not “new” either. Nor are auto accidents, murders, gun accidents, dog bites, muggings, robberies, embezzlements, floods, fires -- or people who criticize the media for reporting what is happening, “new” or not.

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1 reply
THE GREAT ONE marekin2000 June 19 2014 at 10:05 AM

His point is it is used to push the idea climate change caused it

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1 reply
chris THE GREAT ONE June 19 2014 at 10:33 AM

Try reading the article 9000 times, it doesn't mention climate change anywhere.

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summitfarm14 June 19 2014 at 11:24 AM

botch you are one dumbazz

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debnaert June 19 2014 at 9:16 AM

Nothing new for this country.... aol makes it sound like this has never happened before. Read your history about tornadoes.... Over 200 a year form over the state of OKLAHOMA, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri etc. etc. Been going on for centuries. How about the one that lasted for over 200 miles and killed over 1000 people in the early 1900's. Nothing new.

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3 replies
stengernc June 19 2014 at 12:04 PM

I guess I will never understand the term we are blessed after a town gets smashed up by a tornado. Being blessed should mean that God stopped the tornado from doing damage....same thing when a church gets destroyed, we are blessed that no one got hurt....really, sounds like there is confusion about what a true blessing is.

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4 replies
bjredmond64 June 19 2014 at 10:57 AM

all these things have happened before, but the bible warns it will get worse as time draws near for His coming. mankind will beg the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of God. the only things stopping His return in the past was God was still god of America and Israel was not a nation. now, all these things have been fullfulled. it will be a downhill ride from now on until armagedon and the blessed return of Christ. are you ready?

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2 replies
Michael bjredmond64 June 19 2014 at 2:06 PM

bjredmond64, oh pleaseeeeeeee, another "worlds going to end soon," prophet.....smh

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anubis7336 bjredmond64 June 19 2014 at 2:40 PM

Sinse you seem to have insider info about Christ, can you tell us where he'll be landing.

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Buckingham's June 19 2014 at 11:35 AM

Mother Nature is SO pissed off these days. Sheesh!

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1 reply
dewlady357 Buckingham's June 19 2014 at 1:07 PM

She has a very serious case of PMS and using all her powers to let us know exactly how pissed off she is. Also, have you seen the bumper sticker that says it like it is? "Jesus is coming, and BOY is He pissed." Well, I sort of agree. How could He NOT be pissed?

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1 reply
Davis10Oregon1 dewlady357 June 19 2014 at 3:39 PM

Why, hell he has been coming for so long, I would think by now he should have reached his cllimax ;
His pinnacle, no don't bother to remind me, like his mother before him, he too was a virgin .
Uttered to his mother " woman, it is not yet my time," when he was asked to turn water into wine, he did obey his mother's request, which leads me to believe his thirty three years here on the great planet with the rest of those mortals, fine as some of those ladies were, he had a challenge, obviously met and exceed mere human limitations, had the innate power to ejaculate without being touched, using only his mind perhaps as the vehicle of self gratification giving him total satisfaction, as we may experience with our mates today.As plausible, as any of those other theories,in my mind, that is.

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Velocity105 June 19 2014 at 1:44 PM

You would think after all these years of tornados beginning even back in the early 20th century that people in tornado alley would begin to take steps to tornado-proof their houses and businesses. Reinforced concrete and brick is probably going to avoid damage from even an F5.

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