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VIDEO: 9 injured after tornado hits near Watford City

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WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- Nine people have been confirmed injured, one of them critically, after  a tornado touched down about 5 miles south of Watford City on Monday night, damaging a dozen trailers at an RV camp.

Eight families spent the night at an emergency shelter in Watford City, the Red Cross said Tuesday morning.

Jerry Samuelson, emergency management director for McKenzie County, confirmed the number of injuries Tuesday.

Meteorologist John Martin with the National Weather Service in Bismarck said a tornado warning was issued for areas of McKenzie County at about 7:46 p.m. CDT Monday and learned shortly thereafter that a tornado had touched down.

“We know that there were 12 trailers that were destroyed,” Cecily Fong, the public information officer for the state Department of Emergency Services said Monday night.

About 1 mile south of Watford City, Reino Rousu was hunkered down in his shop during the storm with his four children as hail larger than golf balls pelted the steel roof.

“It sounded like you were sitting in a firing range,” Rousu said.

Rousu watched what he thinks were three tornadoes touch down farther south of his home.

“You could see debris flying around it,” Rousu said. “It was on the ground for a long time.”

Rousu is contract manager for GHB Realty, which owns an extended stay housing facility south of Watford City. The area is in the heart of  the Oil Patch in northwest North Dakota, with many residents using campers, RVs or other temporary housing.

“We were lucky it didn’t touch down on us,” Rousu said. “We just got the hail and the hard wind.”

Joy Haut, manager of an RV park adjacent to the park that was hit by the tornado, said she had a friend in the park that was hit.

Haut said the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, of which she is a member, was working to help those affected by the tornado find a place to stay and replace any clothing or food they may have lost in the storm.

The storm moved southeast through McKenzie County and headed toward Dunn County and the cities of Killdeer and Dunn Center, as well as Little Missouri State Park and the McKenzie Bay Recreation Area.

Dunn County Sheriff Clay Coker said his area received 1.9 inches of rain in less than an hour, but no hail.

“If you were driving, you’d probably have to stop it’s raining so hard,” Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew said.

 
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The Forum Communications News Service is the premier news wire service covering the Upper Midwest, stretching from the oilfields of western North Dakota to the plains of South Dakota and to the shores of eastern Minnesota. For more information about the services we offer or to discuss content subscriptions, please contact us.
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