The pictures are worth more than a thousand words in Wessington Springs after a twister tore the town into thousands of pieces.
"Actually I thought it was over," Jerauld County Sheriff Jason Weber said.
Weber saw the EF-2 tornado take direct aim at Wessington Spring Wednesday night.
"Seeing it hit the town and light transformers blow up, sparks, and debris; it takes your breath away," Weber said.
Weber says it was unreal watching the tornado hit his town tearing up homes and businesses.
Officials say the storm blew away more than 40 homes - cutting a destructive diagonal through the heart of town. No one will be able to live in more than half of the houses.
Despite all the damage no one lost their life and only minor injuries were reported.
"Because the emergency response was as early as it was, and the alarm was sounded as early as it was, everyone was able to get back to shelter in time," South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard said Thursday.
The warning sirens went off for more than 30 minutes in Wessington Springs Wednesday night before the tornado hit.
"There must have been something in the air because everyone listened to them and the people went in their basements. They (the sirens) went off four times," Wessington Springs Mayor Melissa Mebius said.
Weber is glad residents heeded those warnings. He hopes it made the difference between a tornado that tore the town to pieces versus a tornado that could have been tragic.
"I hope it did. Whatever saved the lives of those in Wessington Springs last night - who knows?" Weber said.
But they do know the community will now rally together to recover.
Structural engineers went through Wessington Springs Thursday marking homes that were not strong enough for residents to live in anymore. So far there are more than 25 on that list.