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June 19, 2014 09:29 AM

People Survey Tornado Damage In Wessington Springs

Wessington Springs, SD

A central South Dakota community is shut down Thursday morning as residents survey tornado damage.

It ripped through Wessington Springs Wednesday night, destroying homes and businesses.

Emergency responders gather at the center of Wessington Springs following the storm.

"The law enforcement response was overwhelming to be honest with you," Dedrich Koch said.

Multiple city, county and state agencies are assisting in the effort. The tornado didn't claim lives, but it did claim plenty of property.

Andrew Miller and Justine Hanson waited out the storm for 45 minutes in the courthouse, which is a designated storm shelter.

"When we came back out, we went down to our house and it's gone," Miller said. "There's nothing left of it besides the cement blocks it was sitting on."

"It's all gone," Hanson said. "We don't have any clothes besides the clothes that are on our back. No money, no nothing but we'll get things figured out. It'll be all OK."

They plan to stay in a hotel for now. The community has set up a shelter for those displaced.

"It's a 4-H ag building. I don't think it's being utilized much at this time. Most of the people had alternate sources of places to go," Koch said.

Officials estimate the storm destroyed about a dozen homes. That number could grow as people continue to inspect their damaged property.

"We looked for about two hours and we finally found some of our stuff in the neighbor's back yard across the street. My pickup is in an evergreen tree in the front yard. It was parked in the garage. It's a total loss; it's gone," Miller said.

City leaders are asking volunteers to stay away for the time being. Immediate family can come to town and help. They need to check in at the elementary school.

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