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July 24, 2014 10:00 PM

Wessington Springs Relief Fund Nears $150,000

It's been more than a month since an EF 2 tornado destroyed parts of Wessington Springs.

While donations have risen over the last five weeks to nearly $150,000, there are other ways people are helping the more than 50 families whose homes were damaged by the twister.

"We hope to help as many as we can or as many people who come forward," Ryan Jensen said.

Wanda Tapken rode out the tornado huddled in the courthouse. When she saw her home, she knew it would be a long road back to normal.

"We knew it was gone, but when we got home we could tell the roof was gone, the sides were bowed out, and our shed was inside the house," Tapken said.

Donations for the Wessington Springs Relief Fund total around $142,000, according to city officials. The money will go to those who need it most.

A committee has been formed to determine who gets a portion of those donations.

So far, more than 60 people have asked for financial help. But that isn't the only way the community is rebounding.

Five committees have been set up to help with the long-term recovery of Wessington Springs. They range from those offering financial help to emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

"It's not that I'm surprised, I'm more shocked," Ryan Jensen said. "I know that South Dakota and surrounding states, they're good people, we come from a great state and come from a great community."

Jensen oversees a committee that will help distribute non-financial resources, like more than 125 donated trees and offers for sheet rocking services.

Tapken says she's thankful for the donations.

"It's wonderful if they gave it to the people who need it and should have it," Tapken said.

If people wish to donate money they can either take donations to any American Bank and Trust in South Dakota or can mail it to the bank in Wessington Springs.

The address is PO Box 469, Wessington Springs, SD 57382. People should make their checks out to “City WS Tornado Relief”.

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