Spencer Continues To Recover 20 Years After Tornado

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A small southeastern community in South Dakota continues to recover two decades after the most destructive tornado in the state’s history ripped through the city.

The May 30, 1998 tornado that killed six people in Spencer was the second-deadliest in the state with estimated 225 mph winds.

Betty Schoon took cover in her mother’s basement. She says five churches and the water tower were destroyed. The only bank was also leveled.

Spencer had a population of about 315 people at the time. Only about 40 homes on the northern edge of town were spared from the destruction.

The town’s population fell by half a year after the tornado. Spencer now has 155 residents.

Twenty years later, the town lives on with a new water tower, bank and one of the five churches.


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