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UPDATE: Red Cross Establishes Relief Fund for Wessington Springs Tornado Victims


Wessington Springs, SD (KELO AM) - The Red Cross and other aid organizations rushed to Wessington Springs, in some cases just hours after the tornado hit on Wednesday.

Red Cross Dakotas Spokesman Brian Shawn says they've handed out thousands of meals and thousands of snacks to both tornado victims and to National Guard members and other emergency responders helping with the recovery.

Shawn says they have a mobile food wagon that actually goes out into the damaged neighborhoods with food and drinks. He estimates that the Red Cross will be in the small town at least for a couple more weeks.

Any business, organization or individual wishing to help Wessington Springs residents impacted by the tornado is urged to donate to the Wessington Springs Relief fund by contacting the Red Cross. To donate, visit the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org and designate your donation for Wessington Springs or call 1-800-Red-Cross.

Cash donations designated to the Wessington Springs Relief Fund may also be dropped off at American Bank & Trust locations in Wessington Springs, Alpena, Huron, Wolsey, Miller, Huron-Walmart, Pierre, Mellette and De Smet.

Resident Dave Hook calls it the second worst tornado he has seen in his lifetime, after the twister that tore through the town of Spencer in the late 90’s. Hook estimated that a third of the town received damage from the storm.

Hook, who has been chasing storms since he was young, said he watched the storm cut a path through town from his living room. After the storm left he immediately went outside to check on his neighbors and begin cleaning up. He said the National Guard and other officials have set up a base at the school parking lot and have begun the process of trucking debris out of town.

Community leaders are working to establish a donation-reception center and are preparing a list of community needs. Once local leaders have identified what the community needs for its recovery, that list will be announced and donations will be gratefully accepted.

South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) toured the tornado damage on Friday.