Tornadoes strike SD, MI

About 60 tornadoes touched down in South Dakota Tuesday night.


"I'm still just checking up on my people."

—Rev. Chris Larson

A swarm of tornadoes swept through South Dakota and Minnesota Tuesday night, causing severe damage in a handful of small towns.

About 60 tornadoes hit South Dakota, including an F4 twister that hit the town of Manchester, said meteorologist Chris Jansen with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Manchester is a virtual ghost town that is home to two families the Fergusons and the Tobermans, according to the Rev. Chris Larson, pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Iroquois, S.D. Virtually every building here was destroyed, Larson said.

Larson and other local clergy are likely to help these two families, as well as others in the town of Cavour about 10 miles to the west, where several homes were also damaged. In Cavour, eight homes and a grain elevator were damaged, and trees and power lines were knocked down all over the county, said Tom Modine, director of emergency management for Jerauld County. Jansen said powerful straight line winds were the cause of this damage.

"We're still checking into that," said the Rev. Gail Arnold, pastor of both the United Methodist and United Church of Christ churches in De Smet, S.D. "We'll be working with them to see what they need. Basically, we'll help them do whatever they want to do."

Larson said it was too early to tell what his church's response to the disaster would be, since some of his parishioners in Cavour were hit by last night's storm. "I'm still just checking up on my people," he said.

There were no deaths or serious injuries, but six people did suffer minor injuries, said Rick Lancaster, director of the State of South Dakota Division of Emergency Management. Lancaster said tornadoes were reported all over South Dakota between 7 p.m. and midnight on Tuesday, with other damage reports coming from Davison and Douglas counties. "It was a widespread event," he said.

The Salvation Army has been providing meals in both Cavour and Manchester, said Captain Terri Nauta, with The Salvation Army in Huron, S.D.

Shortly after storms swept through South Dakota, neighboring Minnesota got some of the same unpleasant treatment. About 65 homes and five businesses were damaged in Buffalo Lake, a town of more than 700 people about 80 miles west of Minneapolis, said Annette Bauer, a spokeswoman for The Salvation Army. Two homes and three businesses were totally destroyed, she said, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

The Buffalo Lake tornado rated F2 on the Fujita scale, said meteorologist Rich Naistat with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minn.

The Salvation Army has provided more than 370 meals since arriving on the scene last night, Bauer said.

"We've been there since midnight serving food," said Bauer. "We're making sure that the people who are working have food and water so they don't have to stop work and scout out a place to eat."

One church in Buffalo Lake the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church also sustained severe damage, according to parishioners.

"It's pretty well damaged," said churchgoer Elaine Rossow, who, with her three daughters, was helping clean up on Wednesday. "It doesn't have a roof, and the basement's about to cave in."

The parsonage was also hit, said the pastor's brother-in-law, Mark Huselid. The pastor and his one-year old daughter rode out the storm under a stairwell, Huselid said. Neither of them was hurt.

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