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Deadly Tornado Strikes Minnesota

July 26, 2000

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. (AP) _ A tornado struck this western Minnesota town Tuesday night, killing at least one person and damaging or destroying dozens of homes and buildings.

``The west side of town was just destroyed,″ said Doug Kiesling, a storm spotter.

Richard Blackwelder, a Yellow Medicine County deputy, confirmed the fatality, but said relatives were still being notified and details were not released.

About a dozen people were treated for cuts and bruises, said George Gerlach, administrator of Granite Falls Municipal Hospital.

Snowplows had to clear area roads so emergency vehicles could get through. Rescue vehicles from towns 40 miles away were dispatched to the town of about 3,000 people about 110 miles west of Minneapolis.

One official estimate placed the number of damaged homes at between 300 and 350.

``There is so much rubble that you can’t tell where there was a house,″ said Greg Devereaux, a photographer for the Independent of Marshall.

Gov. Jesse Ventura called out the National Guard for security and rescue operations.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Granite Falls at 6:17 p.m. Officials said public reports indicated as many as five funnel clouds were spotted at one time.

City Manager Bill Lavin said he ``very definitely″ saw a tornado. He said he heard ``the typical train sound and the popping of the ear drums as it went overhead.″

Deborah Krepela said she was standing outside of the Granite Falls restaurant she runs and saw a tornado pass through the middle of town. It hit homes, and ``debris was flying everywhere,″ she said.

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