- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Severe storms raked the upper Midwest, spawning tornadoes that tore up houses and a church in Minnesota and wiped out a cluster of rural homes in South Dakota.

Hardest hit was the town of Buffalo Lake, Minn., although no major injuries were reported.

“The [grain] elevator’s busted up, power lines are down, the whole city got hit. The whole north side of the roof of Zion Lutheran Church is gone,” said Buffalo Lake City Councilman Douglas Rath.

Ten to 15 homes were nearly leveled in Buffalo Lake, a town of about 770 people, Police Chief Greg Gowan said yesterday on CBS’s “The Early Show.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty surveyed the damage yesterday morning, and National Guard troops were called in to prevent looting.

In eastern South Dakota, four persons were injured when a tornado struck tiny Manchester, a rural community where six persons lived in three houses. A couple of farmhouses to the north of Manchester also were leveled, said Kingsbury County Sheriff Charles Smith.

“I’ve seen other tornado damage, but I’ve never seen farms where everything is gone,” Sheriff Smith said. “It stripped it clean to the foundation. If anyone would have been home at those places, they would have been dead.”

Two of the people injured in Manchester had been headed into their basement when the twister hit, said Dr. Louis Karlen. “She made it down the basement. He was sucked out and landed a block away.”

In Nebraska, at least eight twisters struck as storms roared across the state for a third straight day, but no deaths or injuries were reported there. A barn was damaged outside Newport near the South Dakota line and three homes in the community of about 100 had minor damage.

Chief Gowan said no one was seriously hurt at Buffalo Lake, about 70 miles west of Minneapolis in south-central Minnesota, because tornado warnings were given an hour or more before the storm struck. “I ran down Main Street and told [people] to go in the basement,” he said.

Chief Gowan said he knew it was time to run for cover when he saw a 40-foot pine tree with its roots attached “slowly pirouetting in the sky, maybe 200 feet in the air.”

He estimated that in addition to the homes that were leveled, five buildings were severely damaged and about 50 houses had some damage.

Northwest Airlines said high wind damaged a dozen of its airplanes at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Northwest canceled 10 flights, but a spokesman said all flights were back on schedule yesterday.

In North Dakota, high wind blew over four tractor-trailer rigs on Interstate 29 north of Fargo, the Highway Patrol said. The wind also knocked down 25 towers supporting a high-voltage power line, said Minnkota Power Cooperative. Power was rerouted and customers weren’t affected.

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