North Dakota has been ripped by severe weather several times in the past month, damaging crops and homes all over the state. Residents in Hettinger are still assessing damages after two powerful storms struck the area within four days.
Baseball-sized hail pummeled the small southwestern town, as well as other parts of Adams County. “It sounded like nothing on earth when it hit the roof,” said the Rev. Kathleen Dettmann of Hettinger Lutheran Church. “No one around here had ever seen anything like that – it was huge pieces of hail.”
Two people were treated for injuries during the July 24 hail storm. Homes and structures in the city of Hettinger suffered damage to windows and roofs. The Adams County emergency manager reports that as many as 1,000 cars saw hail damage.
Dettmann said the region is mostly farms and ranches, and the severe storms took their toll on families who were just starting to feel positive about this year’s crop potential. After years of drought, she said, good weather had been finally helping the crops return.
“This was the first good crop we’ve had in probably four years,” she explained. “A lot are covered by insurance, but there are some who were not. This could easily be a significant hit for us. We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
She added that many ranchers have had to put down cattle that were injured by the hail.
Dettmann said her church will help when needed, but there is an issue with many residents’ fierce independent streak.
“People tend to be unwilling to ask for help out here. Sometimes it’s hard to know in what condition people really are. There’s a lot of ‘things aren’t so bad here, we can get by.’ We found that during the drought, too, so it’s hard to get past that. People just didn’t want to admit they needed help.”
The community remains worried that more storms will come and finish off the crops, leaving Dettmann worried about the storms’ emotional impact. “People were so much more upbeat this year than they have been, they were hopeful,” she said.
“This is not just economic loss for farmers. This is something they had worked so hard at and had invested so much of themselves in. People were just really hoping that this was going to be a turn-around year. And for many it still will be.”
More storms are predicted for the state Wednesday night and river flood warnings are in effect for several rivers in the state.
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