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Storm Chaser arrives with relief for Delmont, SD

Storm Chaser arrives with relief for Delmont, SD

On May 10th, 2015, an EF-2 tornado touched down in the small town of Delmont, SD.  Delmont is located about 90 miles southwest of Sioux Falls, SD and is called home to 234 residents.   The tornado damaged and/or destroyed eighty-four (84) structures in and around Delmont and also injured nine (9) people.  There was also a number of livestock killed by the tornado.  The tornado traveled on the ground for more than 17 miles and had a 400 yard wide path.

Storm Chaser and Storm Assist Volunteer, Marcus Hicks made the drive to Delmont, SD to deliver a $1000 donation.  Here is Marc’s story:

Delmont Sign

“I once again had the honor of serving with Storm Assist providing relief funds to the Delmont Volunteer Fire Dept.

This particular trip was a bit different for me in the emotional sense. I was heading to the Delmont Volunteer Fire Dept., a place that I was told was no longer standing. As I approached  the town the evidence of the Sunday morning tornado was quite clear from the debarked trees to the insulation that was blown all along the fence line.

Being a former firefighter I could not imagine what it was like trying to serve your town without equipment and not be focused on the fact the fire house and equipment was destroyed. But these guys did it.

Crane

Once I made the right turn to enter the town the first thing I could see was the church where a group of children just barely escaped the tornado that caused heavy damage to the building.”


Pipe Organ

“There was a very large pipe organ that was thrown from the second floor into a field.”

Ruins

“My GPS said “You have arrived at your destination” which was the fire department, except there was no fire house there. All that remained was the concrete parking pad and then engine bay slab. Everything else was gone. The bolts anchoring the building to the concrete were completely sheared off.”

“I continued into town and found the old firehouse that was still there.  I pulled in and was immediately greeted by the fire chief, Elmer Goehring. We talked about the challenges of that day and the moments leading up to the tornadic event. It was still early AM on a Sunday, and the church was filled children attending Sunday school. The warning sirens sounded just in time, allowing the children to be rushed into the basement before the tornado tore the top off of the church. “

Old Firehouse

“Elmer and I took a tour of the town discussing the event and how everyone reacted as a community immediately as well as in the days after this tornado.  Having been a firefighter and still a resident of SD, this trip took on a more personal feeling. These were my people, my firefighting brothers and sisters, and they were directly impacted yet worked through it serving the residents of Delmont.  It became impossible not to relate to the challenges faced as Elmer explained who lived where and who built which house.”

Damage2 DamageDamage3

“As Elmer and I drove around surveying the damage we met up with Delmont’s Mayor Mae Gunnare. She was right in there working with the rest of the residents getting the town back in order. The fire chief introduced me to the Mayor explaining that I was from Storm Assist and was on site to provide a donation to the Fire Dept.  Just as the departments members were thankful Storm Assist arrived, so was the Mayor. We didn’t have to opportunity to talk long as she was rounding up some helpers to remove a hot water heater from a house before it was bull dozed. She thanked us again and headed off to keep working.

House Houses Damaged Damage4

“The scene appeared to be a bit overwhelming with so much damage but people were just pitching in working. Residents, the local Amish were there helping out.  On the tour Elmer made the comment that “Living in rural SD, I thought I would never need to use incident command, until now.”  That really sunk in and I could only imagine at that point what it must have been like maintaining order among the chaos and not having the equipment needed to get it done.  Everyone at some point comes to rely on a first responder, and we often do not consider their own vulnerabilities in a large scale situation such as this one.  Not all was lost. Local businesses and other fire departments sent equipment, food and additional man power to support the efforts still underway in Delmont.”

Donation1

As I prepared to leave town, I was honored to have spent some time with the members of this fire department and the members from other departments that were there to support the residents of Delmont. Much like other rural towns, their resolve is strong, Delmont is still there and residents are doing what is needed to heal.

Storm Assist again was able to provide some relief to help with that healing process.  Please consider making a contribution to this great organization.

The community they help next could just be yours.  Visit http://stormassist.org/ for more information.”

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