Recovery efforts in full force Saturday in rural Willmar
6 p.m. Saturday update
WILLMAR - Hundreds of volunteers helped tornado victims take down trees, clean up debris, and cope with the Saturday morning reality of the devastation caused by a tornado Friday evening south of Willmar in Kandiyohi County.
"We've just had so much help today," said Joyce Randt, who watched with her husband, Kenneth, as volunteers kept a steady buzz of chainsaws, backhoes and loaders going. The couple's thick, mature woods were totally destroyed in the tornado, along with the home they built in 1975, a unique round barn, brick silo and workshop.
Hardly anything remains of any of the structures, but the family was buoyed by the presence of friends, neighbors, Red Cross, Salvation Army and businesses that donated food and other items.
Monica Erickson couldn't say enough kind words about the Willmar Fire Department and other emergency workers who helped her, her husband, Eric and their three children deal with the devastation at their home, located on Kandiyohi County Road 19. They even helped look for their dog, Derby, who was missing all night. The one-year old Golden Lab was found Saturday morning.
Sgt. Paul Follmann, from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Department, said so many people volunteered to help Saturday morning that by noon capacity had been reached at the sites. Help will be needed in the days to come, however, especially in helping to pick up debris from farm fields and shelter belts along the nine-mile path the tornado took.