Residents describe tornado that hit Burke

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BURKE, S.D. (KSFY) - The storm quickly approached Burke Tuesday night from the northwest, taking some by surprise.

Michael Karbo was at home when it hit.

“Explosion," Karbo said. "There was one big pop and it sat. It wasn’t one that came and went right away, it was a good 15 to 20 minutes before it started to move out.

Karbo said it was the longest 15 minutes of his life. After the storm subsided his phone rang with a call for help.

“Actually got a call from two of our firemen that were trapped inside a garage and so we kind of started the 911 chain, getting everything going trying to respond," he said.

There were no fatalities, but the devastation caused by the tornado is everywhere. Mayor Tom Glover says it was a blessing no one was at home at two homes that were heavily damaged.

“Pretty well completely destroyed but I know one of the ladies that was living in it moved into an assisted living or nursing home," Glover said. "The other one was vacant because the person had passed away sometime in the last year or two."

The worst part of the damage is the school, community center, and the lumberyard, all the in the center of Burke.

Just before the tornado hit Burke, the power went out. They were not able to activate the sirens in town. The National Weather Service says it is so important to have multiple ways of receiving a warning such as your cell phone.

As the city cleans up, residents are grateful there were no deaths. The realization of the expense to rebuild is sinking in and that’s why resident Billie Sutton has started a GoFundMe page.

"So we started this one just to help the community members in Burke, rebuild," Sutton said.

The tornado has left its mysterious path. Delicate items are untouched while massive structures just feet away are toppled and in ruins. Just as the structures will be rebuilt with new strength, so will the community find new strength in each other.

“We’re very blessed," said Terri Schoenefeld, a Burke resident. "We’re blessed we didn’t have any lost lives in this community so it’s not about us, it's about the community."

The mayor of Burke is asking the public to contact the city's office before donating food or other items. The number to call is 605-775-2913.