“It was the worst we’ve seen”: Belle Fourche residents clean up after destructive storms

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. — Residents in Belle Fourche are cleaning up after a line of destructive storms pushed through Sunday night, bringing high winds and large hail.

Every neighborhood in Belle Fourche has debris in the roads, windows busted out and cars without windshields.

“It started with a big black cloud [that came] up over there, and we didn’t pay that much attention to it,” says Gene Embrey, a Belle Fourche resident. “The next thing we knew, the wind [came] up and the hailstones started coming through the windows…and we just stayed out of the way and [hoped] for the best.”

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Gene Embrey’s home in Belle Fourche

Embrey is among the Belle Fourche residents dealing with major storm debris. His trailer, which sits on Highway 212 just west of town, is pockmarked with four-inch gashes. The windows? Gone.

All through town, tree debris covers the roads, while downed branches line the streets. Residents are out boarding up windows and cleaning up yards. In the driveways, cars — with windows shattered or missing completely — head back and forth from the store for supplies.

As the storm approached, Erica Sowers and her family made it to the basement — and not a minute too soon.

“The window right above our stairs being broken right away, you know, it’s like if we hadn’t gotten down there, that would’ve been a really, really tough, really scary situation to try to get down the stairs in time,” Sowers says.

Tucked away in the basement, Sowers, her husband, and their young children prayed. While their house suffered incredible damage, they came out unharmed.

“We have a picture of Mary, the Virgin Mary, in our stairwell there,” Sowers says, gesturing to the large picture hanging above the stairs. “We had hail and glass just everywhere on the stairs, and even the wall was damaged, but the picture of Mary was untouched. We really felt like she was watching over us and interceding for us.”

So far there have been no reported injuries.

“We’ve been married for 24 years and this is the first accident – first disaster – we’ve ever been in, so we’re pretty lucky,” Embrey says.

The damage left behind showing us the impressive power of Mother Nature.

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Categories: ConnectCenter1-Weather, Local News, South Dakota News