City of Wadena devastated by tornado
It was supposed to be a celebratory day in Wadena. Instead, a tornado tore large sections of the city down. The storm disrupted the city's parade today, and came through town as hundreds of visitors arrive for an all-school reunion.
At 5:10 p.m., a storm caused "extreme damage" in the city, according to Mayor Wayne Wolden. Several buildings were damaged or destroyed, including Wadena-Deer Creek High School and the Wadena Area Community Center.
Wolden said there are 12-13 injuries reported so far, but no fatalities that he knows of.
All but three of the injured were treated for bumps, cuts and bruises and released, the three remained in the Wadena hospital Thursday evening, according to State Sen. Dan Skogen, who gave a radio update following a press conference in Wadena Thursday evening.
Ten fire departments and about 100 law enforcement officers -- including officers from Becker County and the White Earth Tribal Police Department -- have arrived to help, but Wolden said volunteers should stay away at this point.
Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr said the damage is so severe and so many trees and power lines are down, it's not safe to come into the city.
A reporter saw a car upside down in the ditch on Highway 10, and a school bus and semi truck overturned near the fairgrounds in Wadena, looking as if they had been rolled over several times.
Four ambulances were lined up near a neighborhood in southwestern Wadena that appeared to suffer some of the worst devastation.
Law enforcement officers had the neighborhood sealed off and detoured vehicles away.
Trees and large branches were down in town, and debris was scattered across Highway 10. Officers were directing traffic on Highway 10, as a traffic light was out and there were lines of traffic on the outskirts of town.
The Red Cross set up at the Wadena Armory to help people displaced by the storm.
Wolden said there are many gas and water main leaks that crews are trying to repair, and Verizon cell phone service is down in the city.
(Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Nathan Bowe contributed to this story)