Tornado rips through new home, barns in Swift Falls
SWIFT FALLS -- A new home and two turkey barns were destroyed late Tuesday afternoon when a funnel cloud skipped through the Swift Falls area, according to residents reached by telephone.
Electrical power was out in the tiny community. The Swift County Sheriff's Office had barricaded access to town as efforts were made to assure the safety of residents amid a scene of downed trees and damaged homes.
Stanton Nelson, a Swift Falls resident, watched the funnel cloud take shape like "millions of crows'' congregating.
The tornado dropped down on two turkey barns west of the community and tore apart a machine shed and barn on Sanford Skarsten's farm just west of town, said Nelson.
He said the tornado did not touch his home in Swift Falls, but it toppled trees in the yard and seems to have lifted before dropping again on the newly built home of Bryant Skarsten.
Nelson also heard of a farm place south of town where the storm damaged outbuildings, but apparently spared the home.
Nelson had farmed much of his life just west of community, and said he had never seen anything like the sudden storm that roared through town. "It came right through our yard here,'' he said of the funnel.
Bueford Peterson, a longtime resident of the community, said the storm had knocked down a large tree in his yard but spared his home. Peterson said that he could see lots of downed trees along the community's main drag. He was unable to get out and survey the damage due to the downed trees.
Peterson said the "winds came from every direction" at the height of the storm, which he described as being very intense but short-lived.
Peterson and Nelson both said that contacts with their neighbors indicated that no one had been seriously hurt in the community.
The debris from the turkey barns was evident throughout the community.
Nearby at Gilchrist Lake, Richard Heimkes watched as large chunks of insulation rained down around his home amidst the rain that fell with the storm.
Heimkes said he was able to reach his son in Swift Falls by phone and learned that windows in his home had been shattered by the storm and that downed trees littered his yard. Heimkes attempted to reach the community and found access blocked.