Wessington Springs, SD
It's a long road for people in Wessington Springs. Up to 80 percent of the damage has been removed, but people are still working hard to clean up after an EF2 tornado ripped through the heart of the city. The Army National Guard has been along that road with them. Community members say they're grateful for the support.
"It means a lot. My dad was in the National Guard and I never knew what they actually did and then to come and see all this support. It was totally awesome," Luanne Thompson said.
Dennis McEldowney served in the National Guard during the Vietnam War. The Wessington Springs resident lost his home to the tornado, but the process of healing is a little easier thanks to the National Guard.
"Thursday morning the parking lot of the grade school was full of these guard trucks. Whoever was organizing this thing knows what they're doing," Dennis McEldowney said.
Some residents of Wessington Springs believe that the cleanup would have taken weeks, but thanks to the Army National Guard, the cleanup process will go a lot quicker.
"It's amazing. Everybody's got their job and it looks like to me they do it very well," McEldowney said.
The tight-knit community has also made an impression on the soldiers.
"It's amazing what this storm did to this community, but at the same time, it's amazing to see these, the citizens here in Wessington Springs pulling together to help everybody out," Major Heath Abraham said.
More than 150 soldiers initially responded to the disaster. Currently there are 49 still helping the town. Even though their hard work is getting recognized in the community, Major Heath Abraham says they're just doing their job.
"This is part of the guard's mission. We do our federal service when needed and when needed by the community in South Dakota, we're going to be there as quick as possible," Abraham said.
It's a service that has helped the Wessington Springs community move on after that tragic night.
"You got to be proud to be an American when you see these guys," McEldowney said.
There are currently soldiers from three different companies across the state.