N.D. deadly twister marks F3 on scale, region rallies to help

NORTHWOOD, N.D. A twister that ripped through here late Sunday was an F3 tornado, and possibly an F4, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

NORTHWOOD, N.D. A twister that ripped through here late Sunday was an F3 tornado, and possibly an F4, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

The tornado, which has prompted an outpouring of help and support, left one person dead and 18 injured, although none sustained life-threatening injuries. Gov. John Hoeven arrived about noon today and planned to go with officials to witness the damage left by the tornado.

Few structures in town escaped damage as the twister plowed its way through the heart of town, said Kevin Dean, public information officer for the city of Grand Forks, N.D., who is serving as spokesman for emergency workers evaluating the destruction today.

Greg Gust of the National Weather Service said the tornado was eight-tenths of a mile wide - the same width as the deadly 1957 Fargo tornado - but less intense. He said it was at least an F3 in intensity.

Hoeven issued an emergency declaration earlier today before traveling by plane.


The governor and a delegation that included Emergency Services Director Greg Wilz, National Guard Col. Dave Anderson and Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, were to view the disaster area by air.

Dean identified the deceased as Larry Weisz, 57.

He said Weisz lived in a mobile home park on the north side of the city that was destroyed by the storm.

The injured were taken to a hospital in Northwood as well as to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, and MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, Dean said.

None of the 18 injured had life-threatening injuries, Dean said.

Officials were keeping people out of the city this morning and those already in town were being asked to sit tight until officials checked for unstable structures.

Power has been turned off in the city until downed power lines can be taken care of, Dean said.

He added that power, including generator power, cannot be restored to individual homes until they are checked out by the North Dakota State Electrical Board.


The agency can be reached by calling (701) 328-9522, or by dialing (701) 400-5895, which is the cell phone number for Greg Schmidt, an agency representative who is in Northwood today.

A Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputy on the scene described the trailer court as "really twisted."

Officials and townspeople also report serious damage to the city's fire hall, school, grain elevator and other buildings. Emergency responders are using the Northwood Co-Op as headquarters.

Bonnie Fisher was visiting her friend Larry Rick in the trailer park when the tornado struck.

"We heard the sound, which was just like a roaring train, and just as we were trying to get out, the lights went out, the windows shattered, and the next thing we knew we were down and the trailer was on top of us," Fisher said, crying and trembling.

A relative had called a few minutes earlier to warn them of the coming storm, and they heard the emergency siren moments before it all happened.

Fisher suffered injuries to her arm and ankle. Rick was pinned under the wreckage and was taken to the hospital. Fisher didn't know the extent of his injuries, but said he was conscious the whole time.

Valley View owner Rick McDonald said both trailer parks are destroyed. The two parks have 19 units total.


"To me it doesn't look like there's anything salvageable," McDonald said. "There's a new double-wide that is just gone. Who knows where it's at."

Janet Bratlie, wife of Northwood public works superintendent Gary Bratlie, said she witnessed some heavy damage.

"Broken windows, I mean totally broken out," Janet Bratlie said. "Garages are gone. Parts of roofs are gone. And right now it's pouring like crazy."

Her husband, Gary, and all other Northwood city managers were asked to come in because of the damage to the town.

"There's wood all over out in the street," Bratlie said. "Trees are down. It's a total disaster."

Northwood School Superintendent Kevin Coles said there would be no school today.

The American Red Cross Minn-Kota chapter will accept financial donations to help victims in Northwood, N.D. To contribute, write "Northwood Tornado" in the memo line of the check. Donations can be sent to: American Red Cross, 2602 12th St. N., Fargo ND 58102. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting .

The Salvation Army Grand Forks Corps will accept financial donations to help Northwood, N.D., victims. To contribute, write "Northwood" in the memo line of the check or money order and sent it to: The Salvation Army, 1600 University Avenue, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

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