Wessington Springs, SD
Yeah I didn't think it would start off this way," Melissa Mebuis.
Melissa Mebuis has only been mayor of Wessington Springs for less than two months, but the school teacher is dealing with issues not seen by most South Dakota leaders. She first heard about the severe weather on the radio, and she prepared her family for a night that changed everything.
"The siren went off; we got the kids down there right away to the basement under the stairs. I grabbed shoes, grabbed them a snack because I figured, grab some blankets, anything to kind of keep their minds off of what potentially was coming," Mebius said.
What came was a tornado that destroyed dozens of homes across the heart of Wessington Springs.
While she was down in the basement, she didn't think about the safety of her children, but also the safety of the city.
"What if a tornado hits my town? What am I going to do? Those thoughts were already in my head. I haven't been a mayor very long. We're going to find out what kind of leader I am," Mebius said.
As soon as the storm cleared, Mebius brought her three children to her in-laws, who live on the side of Wessington Springs. She then went to the fire hall to set up the command center. She lived there for two days, only sleeping for 45 minutes, but still checked in on her kids.
"I still had mom time in there," Mebius said.
While the last few days have been a whirlwind in Wessington Springs, Mebius wants to keep what happened in perspective.
"Once things calm down, I will go in my house, and I will find a corner by myself and just kind of reflect on some things and then I say 'You know what?' There was devastation and everyone lived through it," Mebius said.
She maybe saving the reflection on the disaster to later, but she is enjoying how the community is handling it in the present.
"So much debris has been picked up. I am so proud of the of the citizens of Wessington Springs and how they've come together and how they are keeping their spirits up and how they're helping each other out," Mebius said.
The storm shifted the foundation of her home and Mebius doesn't think she will be able to save it.