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Tornado hits south-central South Dakota town

By Ed Payne and AnneClaire Stapleton, CNN
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
  • People were reported trapped in their homes, but have been rescued
  • Spokesman for the governor calls the damage "significant"
  • Rare twin tornadoes spun through Pilger, Nebraska, this week

(CNN) -- A tornado hit the south-central South Dakota town of Wessington Springs on Wednesday evening, briefly trapping some people in their homes.

The Jerauld County Sheriff's Office said all have been rescued.

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"The tornado hit across the street from the hospital -- really just one block away -- and there is stuff and debris everywhere," said JoAnn Hettinger, director of patient care at Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital. Her facility received one patient, she said.

In all, 11 homes and three businesses were damaged, according to Roger Dwyer, the Jerauld County emergency management director.

"The Red Cross is on scene," he said. "Most of the folks (in damaged homes) are bunking up with friends and relatives."

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has ordered 100 South Dakota National Guard soldiers to the community to help with recovery and cleanup, a statement from his office said.

Wessington Springs is a town of about 950 people, about 100 miles northwest of Sioux Falls.

On Monday, rare twin tornadoes spun through Pilger, Nebraska, wiping out the business district.

As much as three-fourths of the town of 350 is gone, Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger has said. Two people died during that storm, one a 5-year-old. The second death -- a traffic accident -- was probably weather-related, Unger said.

CNN's Dana Ford, Dave Alsup and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

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