Menu

Tornadoes, Severe Storms Tear Through Midwest

More than 300 rescue and recovery workers poured into this small farming community Wednesday after tornadoes (search) destroyed buildings, ripped up trees and downed power lines, police officials said. No major injuries or deaths were reported.

Buffalo Lake was among the hardest hit when twisters raked a handful of Midwestern states on Tuesday night, leveling buildings and sending residents to hospitals with minor injuries.

"The (farmers) 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 Council member Douglas Rath.

Police Chief Greg Gowan said 10 to 15 homes were virtually leveled.

In eastern South Dakota, the tiny town of Manchester was "virtually leveled," said a spokesman for Gov. Mike Rounds. Homes and buildings were gone in the community of 12 to 20 people and streets were torn up, but no injuries were reported. It was not immediately clear if the damage was caused by a tornado.

At least eight twisters struck Nebraska as thunderstorms roared across the state for a third straight day, but there were no deaths or injuries. A barn was damaged 12 miles north of Newport near the South Dakota line and three homes in the community of about 100 had minor damage.

Gowan said early warnings were the reason no one was seriously hurt at Buffalo Lake, in south-central Minnesota.

"I think that's why you see me so chipper today, the day after my town got destroyed; I have had a multitude of minor injuries, but I have had only four people go to the hospital, no serious injuries and no fatalities," he said.

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 five buildings in town were severely damaged and that about 50 houses had some damage, mainly to roofs, windows and siding.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered National Guard soldiers to Buffalo Lake to guard against looters. Police officers from several nearby cities were also on hand.

"The outpouring has been incredible," Gowan said.

Authorities said a tornado also touched ground near Kandiyohi. Both towns are located about 70 miles west of Minneapolis.

Northwest Airlines said high wind damaged airplanes at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport (search). Airline spokesman Bill Mellon said wind also moved ground equipment around, and downed branches made airport operations tricky, but the airline expected to be running a normal schedule Wednesday.