DELMONT DEVASTATED BY A TORNADO
On July 18th, Ivory performed a tornado relief outdoor concert for the town of Delmont as a donation to rebuild the city’s infrastructure.
DELMONT, S.D. — Jeremy Daugherty doesn’t know where his camper ended up after Sunday’s tornado here, but he did find the baby blue tailgate to a 1980s-era Chevrolet pickup in his yard.
That tailgate came in handy Tuesday, serving as a ramp into a trailer that he and his family were filling with the salvageable contents of his leveled home. With no insurance on his inherited home, no vehicle of his own and no plan for what to do next, Daugherty is happy for any help he can get.
“I have no idea what we’ll do,” Daugherty said. “Right now, we’re just trying to save anything we can.”
Daugherty’s not sure whether he’ll stay in this city about 90 miles southwest of Sioux Falls, S.D. He and his two boys are staying with family about 10 miles away in Tripp, S.D., for now.
“There’s nowhere to stay in Delmont. Most of the homes were right over there,” he said, waving toward the demolished stretch of Seaman Street on the western edge of town hit hardest in the storm.
Daugherty’s sister Sally Gill came from Sioux City, Iowa, to help her brother clean up. She also was helping her sister, who lives less than a block away and watched her roof tear away from the top of her stairwell as she held her two dogs in her arms.
When Gill saw pictures of the damaged homes, “I just bawled,” she said.
The Daugherty family homes were among 49 structures damaged or destroyed in the EF-2 tornado, according to Sandy Frentz, public information officer for the emergency response. Another 35 were damaged but habitable.
Cleanup efforts are inching ahead. Water is available, but a boil order remains in place until at least Thursday. Electrical power was restored to 75% of the town.
Residents and their families have been allowed back into town, but volunteers were not yet welcome.
“Please have patience,” Mayor Mae Gunnare said. “We’re still working on getting a safe route in for them.”
About half of the residents of the town of 200 were displaced by the storm, Gunnare said. Most are staying with family, but the Red Cross’ help center in Tripp has served more than 2,500 meals since Sunday.
She thinks the town will rebuild, but she knows Daugherty isn’t the only resident taking stock of options in the face of the devastation.
“People are looking at, ‘Do we even build in Delmont?’ ” Gunnare said. “We have four solid blocks of nothing.”
People on those blocks were advised to be careful clearing out their belongings. Tetanus shots are being offered free.
They’ve also been advised not to throw out anything valuable without taking a photo or video. That way, insurance companies have proof of ownership and can compensate the owner for the loss.
Insurance payments aren’t an option for Daugherty, but they will be for others.
The tornado tore Steve Peters’ home in half just south of Delmont. He also lost nine cows, five fat cattle and three nursing calves. He feels for them because they had nowhere to hide and couldn’t run past the fence.
Peters said he’s grateful to have a good insurance policy to cover his economic losses and because his family was unharmed.
Aside from the animals, “it’s just a lot of material things,” he said.
Peters and his wife were town with his 89-year-old mother when the twister rushed through. He’s glad they were able to get her into the basement in time.
The tornado hit her home, too.
“I think it would have been too much for her to fathom to try and get to safety,” he said.
His son Seth lives across the U.S. 18 from his father in a house with no basement. He brought his wife and 1-year-old son across the road as the tornado hit so they all would have a basement for shelter.
The sound — 30 seconds of fury as the tornado passed overhead — was “kind of silent” from the basement, he recalls. When he walked up the steps and saw insulation from the roof, he knew he had underestimated the storm.
“I never dreamed when I walked up those stairs that this is what we’d see,” Seth Peters said. “It didn’t sound that bad.”
The Peters say they’ve been overwhelmed since then with neighbors’ support.
A stranger from Yankton, S.D., joined them Monday, saying he had gone through a tornado and wanted to pitch in. More than 100 people from the Clearfield and Greenwald Hutterite colonies appeared Monday to help.
The Clearfield colony is about 10 miles south of town, but the Greenwald colony is east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, more than 500 miles north of here. Hutterites, Mennonites and Amish share common religious roots.
“They’ve been such good neighbors,” Steve Peters said. “It’s been everyone. It’s wonderful to live in a state like South Dakota, where people are so willing to help out.”
From USA TODAY