'When all hell broke loose"; Wadena assesses damage“It was a twister and it’s bad, really bad,” Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden said in a briefing room at the City Offices Thursday night.
(Because Forum Communications owns both the New Richmond News and the Wadena Pioneer Journal, we have access to come of the tornado coverage that newspaper has been providing throughout the day. With new aerial photos of the damage and some interesting stories from survivors, we thought we'd share some of the information with our readers.)
“It was a twister and it’s bad, really bad,” Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden said in a briefing room at the City Offices Thursday night.
The tornado hit at approximately 5:10 p.m., he said. Two sirens sounded before the storm arrived. Southwest Wadena was the hardest hit, he said. Northwest Wadena was also hit hard.
Thursday night, Wadena residents were left to pick up the pieces.
The garage and backside of Darcy Fink’s home at Seventh Street Southwest and Irving Avenue were gone, she said. She could see through the roof.
Sara Ross’s home, which is for sale, at Sixth Street Southwest and Irving Avenue fared much better. A tree hit the roof, but the damage wasn’t apparent inside, she said. A large tree lay across the front yard and a fence in the back was down. She also owns a home just down Sixth Street, she said
“We have a roof, we have a home,” Ross said. “We are beyond fortunate.”
Ross mourned what has happened to “our beautiful town.” Everyone has worked hard so the town looks nice for the Wadena-Deer Creek All-School Reunion, she said.
Carol Taggart, an organizer for the All-School Reunion, was at the high school when the storm hit. The reunion started the day of the storm with registration scheduled from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The bulletin board blew over, she felt a breeze and they took cover in the men’s locker room. They had been told to take shelter in there earlier and knew where to go, she said.
Taggart’s granddaughter, Yalonda Nelson, was driving by Wal-Mart when the storm hit and took shelter there.
Mike Gibson, of Nevis, was registering for the reunion at the time of the storm. There was a hollow sound and then “all hell broke loose,” he said.
A large piece of what was reported to be the Wadena Community Center roof was twisted over the end of the school that houses the district offices.
Sgt. Tom Crawford, of the Wadena Police Department, said, “It’s pretty much devastation at its finest,” as he was surrounded by downed power lines and trees by Fink Park and what remained of the Wadena City Pool. Water spurted from pipes in the blue block rubble of the pool.
Richard and Jill Decker of 222 Fourth St. SW counted themselves fortunate. All of the trees on their property are down, but there is only one pane of glass missing from their home, they said. Homes and Johnson Memorial Home were hit with pieces of what was reported to be the Wadena Community Center roof right across the street from the Deckers. Their daughter, Paige, 5, helped clean up debris with a shovel after the storm.
Darrel Janson saw the funnel before it struck his southwest Wadena property. All the windows were broken on the south and east sides of his home, he said. There was a tree in the bedroom and a 2x4 came through the wall.
“This is not a good day for Wadena,” he said.
Leann Scalia watched from her front porch as a tree fell onto a van in the driveway at her 513 South Jefferson St. home. It also damaged the side of the home, but it appeared to be mostly trim, she said. It could have been much worse.
“We’re very lucky,” she said.
Scalia was taking a nap with her dogs when the weather became bad.