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Published July 05 2011

Tornado that hit Mapleton farm rated EF-2

MAPLETON, N.D. – Sonny South wore a lifting belt for his bad back and a brace on his replacement knee as the 64-year-old picked up pieces of splintered wood and twisted metal Tuesday on the Jay and Marilyn Meyer farm near Mapleton.

South said he just met Jay Meyer last fall when Meyer hired him to trap raccoons in his barns. But the Casselton man didn’t hesitate to volunteer for cleanup duty after a torna-do packing winds up to 130 mph ravaged Meyer’s farm Monday night.

“I’m doing what I can do,” said South, who brought his 11-year-old grandson, Ben, to help out.

More than a dozen family members and friends descended on the Meyer farm early Tuesday to continue the cleanup work started by eight or nine people who showed up Monday night shortly after the tornado struck around 10.

“We’re neighbors. You see it all the time,” Jay Meyer said as heavy equipment rumbled around him, clearing trees and debris. “Everybody helps one another. I guess it’s my turn to need the help.”

In preliminary findings, the National Weather Service rated the tornado an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, said Greg Gust, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS office in Grand Forks.

A second tornado that ripped up eaves, shingles and other roof materials at the Rick Kent residence about 12 miles northwest of Grandin was rated an EF-1, Gust said. A third tornado that damaged tree belts closer to Grandin was rated an EF-0, he said.

The EF-2 tornado was reported by a spotter at 10:02 p.m. about five miles northwest of Mapleton.

It ripped the flat roof off Jay and Marilyn Meyer’s attached garage and tore the roof off the house and garage belonging to their son, Bob Meyer, who lives across the driveway from them on the farm. Part of Bob Meyer’s roof landed against his parents’ house.

The tornado also destroyed a detached garage that housed Jay Meyer’s pickup, lifting the garage and flinging it to the northeast. The pickup was left in place, but a tree fell on it. The twister also flipped over a grain cart and moved other farm equip-ment, Jay Meyer said.

No one was hurt. All three family members were in their basements when the storm passed through.

Bob Meyer, 33, who farms with his father, said he took refuge in his basement just before the tornado hit. As he looked out a basement window to the west, he saw small trees bend and then snap off.

As the tornado passed overhead, the windows bowed in and out from the air pressure, he said.

“It was a pretty intense couple of minutes,” he said.

The tornado tore off his roof and an exterior garage wall, but it left the home’s interior largely unscathed except for a bowed wall next to the garage, a hole where a ceiling exhaust fan had been and gray cellulose insulation covering the floor.

Bob Meyer said he received calls from concerned friends and family right after the tornado, and he posted an update on Facebook about his missing roof. Within minutes, several people arrived to help him move his belong-ings out of the house, he said, adding the family was “very grateful” for the aid.

“It’s the way people are around here. I guess I’d do the same for any of them if they needed it,” he said.

Bob Meyer said professionals will need to look at his house to determine if it’s safe to live in and worth repairing.

The farm is insured, Jay Meyer said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528