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a National Guard Humvee patrols an area in southwest Dickinson, Friday.

Heavy damage reports swirl in after Dickinson tornado

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DICKINSON, N.D. - Twenty-three of the 154 structures inspected by officials in Dickinson Thursday were declared completely destroyed, city administrator Shawn Kessel said at news conference Friday.

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Those structures, which were damaged during a tornado on Wednesday, included houses and apartment buildings. No major injuries were reported.

Fifty properties are damaged greater than 50 percent, said Mayor Dennis Johnson. About 20 properties, including eight apartment buildings and 15 single residences are completely damaged, he added.

Officials hoped to complete inspections by Friday evening.

Insurance companies beefed up their manpower so residents can start to rebuild their lives.

American Family Insurance brought in its catastrophe team to assist home and vehicle owners in the claims process.

"Right now we have in excess of 60 homeowner claims at least, with 20 of them being moderate or greater damage," said Tracy Groth, catastrophe operations administrator for American Family.

Todd Otto, State Farm Insurance agent, said State Farm brought in additional claim representatives from Bismarck, Wisconsin and Nebraska to try and reach people quicker.

"As of this morning, we were at about 160 claims for auto, home and renters' insurance," Otto said.

Otto said there are five claim representatives in the field working on home, boat and renters' policies and an additional four working on campers and vehicle claims.

The claims process for homes with extensive damage can take much longer to assess, Otto said.

"We certainly request patience from those who have homes still intact while we get the folks who have uninhabitable homes taken care of," Otto said.

To prevent further damage, residents and contractors have begun erecting temporary walls and replacing shingles.

Troy Bosch of Bosch Lumber said they have already started selling large amounts of shingles, plywood and oriented-strand board.

"There are 10 pallets (of shingles) to a semi and we moved a couple loads the first day," Bosch said.

Bosch suggests residents who need repairs call local contractors.

"We tell people to be very cautious about paying contractors upfront because people have been burned," Bosch said.

About 40 percent of tree debris had been removed Friday morning and the streets on the south side are passable.

The Army National Guard is patrolling the area from Heart River to Eighth Street South and from State Avenue to Sixth Street. Only those who live there are allowed in.

Pringle requested seven additional soldiers and equipment Friday to help over the weekend.

Kessel said those helping remove debris should separate it into two piles: Trees and other debris. The city will pick up the piles.

Officials tried to get electricity restored to all homes in Dickinson by Friday evening, Johnson said. Johnson was out of town during the tornado, but returned Thursday.

He said 90 percent of the poles which were down were back up by Friday morning.

"Electrical inspectors from the state are very concerned about people with generators," Johnson said, adding if a generator is improperly connected it could be a safety risk. "If you're not sure, get a professional in there to help."

National, state and local officials are working together to get through this, Johnson said. He added surrounding communities have also been helping.

No fatalities or new injuries have been reported.

"I'm pretty confident that everyone is accounted for," Kessel said.

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