1. A violent storm spawned several tornadoes Wednesday in South Dakota near the town of Wessington Springs.
8. Storm chaser Jason Cooley told BuzzFeed he drove through Wessington Springs just after the storm hit.
Cooley didn’t see the tornado itself hit the town, but he did witness widespread destruction. About 75% of the buildings were damaged, and 25% significantly. There was debris strewn throughout the town. Vehicles had their windows smashed. “Mostly everything we saw was damaged in some way or another,” he said.
Cooley later saw the tornado weaken and dissipate after he had left the town.
12. One person was hospitalized in the aftermath Wednesday.
Lindsey Meyers, a spokeswoman for Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, told BuzzFeed that only one person was being treated for injuries following the tornado strike in Wessington Springs. That person was in good condition, Meyers added. The hospital and a nursing home suffered minor damage including broken windows during the tornado, but remained operational. They were running on backup power.
As of about 10:15 p.m. CT, most people in the town had been accounted for, Meyers said. She praised local search and rescue for their efforts getting people out of the wreckage.
14. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard deployed the National Guard Wednesday in response to the storm.
16. Isabelle Mae lives in Wessington Springs and said the tornado leveled both of the town’s bars.
Mae said she was at work when the tornado sirens went off Wednesday — a sound she likened to the noise made by aliens in the movie War of the Worlds. When Mae returned home later she learned that her home had survived but part of the roof on her barn had been lifted off by the wind.
Among other things, Mae said, the storm destroyed both of the towns bars — one of which was where Mae had her first drink. By 11 p.m. CT, people in the town were already helping clear away the wreckage.
21. Tornado watches remained in effect for the region through Wednesday evening.
23. The damage in Wessington Springs occurred after storm chasers witnessed other tornadoes touch down in the area Wednesday.
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