- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DELMONT, S.D. (AP) - The mayor of Delmont said the tornado that struck the town at the weekend completely wiped out four blocks, as officials confirmed that 84 structures were damaged or destroyed by the twister.

Six of the damaged or destroyed structures were in rural areas in Douglas and Charles Mix counties, and 78 were in Delmont, according to state Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan. The twister Sunday morning also heavily damaged trees in the southeastern South Dakota community. National Guard soldiers as of early Wednesday had removed 81 loads of downed trees and branches.

“Are we going to rebuild in Delmont?” Mayor Mae Gunnare said. “That’s going to be a major question for a lot of our residents. We have four solid blocks of nothing. I have mixed feelings on what people are going to do.”

The tornado injured nine people. One remained hospitalized in stable condition late Tuesday.

Electricity and water service have been restored to the community, though a water boil order remains in place until at least Thursday. Access to the community is still restricted to residents, who are being allowed to remain in habitable homes. Some homes are beyond repair.

“We have some folks who need to make closure with their homes, unfortunately,” Gunnare said.

The town’s business district remains mostly intact, though the destroyed structures in the community of about 200 people include the town’s new fire hall and the 100-year-old old Zion Lutheran Church. Members of the church held a prayer service Tuesday evening to say goodbye to the building. Officials plan to take apart the collapsed fire hall Thursday to assess whether vehicles inside can be salvaged.

The National Weather Service rated the tornado as an EF-2, with a peak wind speed of 130 mph, a 17-mile-long path and a maximum width of 400 yards.

Cash donations designated to the Delmont Disaster Relief Fund can be dropped off at First State Bank locations in Delmont, Tripp, Armour and Geddes. Donations can be mailed to First State Bank, P.O. Box 68, Delmont, SD 57330.


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