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Minnesota sights 24 tornadoes


"We are getting our response coordinated."

—Rick Rabeneck

Some 24 funnel clouds were reported by forecasters across Minnesota Wednesday night, with about seven actually touching down, said Kevin Smith, public information officer for Minnesota emergency management.

The twisters struck mostly rural areas, added Smith.

Northfield, located in a rural area skirting along Minneapolis-St. Paul, was hardest hit, said Rick Rabeneck, civil defense director. Four homes in the city were severely damaged and about 10 others sustained minor damage from what forecasters reported was an F2 strength twister.

Northfield, which spreads across both Dakota and Rice counties, is home to about 20,000 people. "We are getting our response coordinated," said Rabeneck, adding that Highway 19 -- the main route in and out of the city -- had been reopened and that the power had been restored.

Local pastors reported they were speaking with residents to see what their needs may be. "We're checking on folks to see how they were affected," said the Rev. Will Healy, pastor at Emmaus Baptist Church. The Rev. Tim McDermott, pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, said some members of his congregation were dealing roof damage.

Severe storms also struck the nearby towns of Hickley, Owatonna, and St. Patrick. Power lines and trees were downed.

Farms throughout the area have sustained damage, with several barns flattened and debris litters field that have been freshly planted, said Smith.

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