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Severe thunderstorm impacts Rugby

By Staff | Jun 16, 2017

Severe thunderstorms impacted western and central North Dakota last weekend, beginning the afternoon of Friday, June 9 and lasting through early Saturday, June 10.

Rugby was just one of the areas that was severely impacted, with a storm chaser measuring winds of 104 mph nearby (National Weather Service).

Reports of hail were received by numerous area residents, the largest being near Richardton, ND with baseball-sized hail and Ypsilanti, ND with tennis ball-sized hail, according to the National Weather Service.

One farm in Rugby, belonging to Thomas and Jenn Swanson, saw a good amount of damage to the property.

According to Jenn, the storm started at the farm around 6:30 p.m., with strong winds shaking the house. The Swansons retreated to their basement to wait out the storm, which lasted for around 20 minutes.

Two barns were destroyed, with their best barn being completely totaled from the winds. Dime- to quarter-sized hail covered the ground, and five trees were uprooted, leaving branches everywhere.

The storm also took some of the fence down, as well as ripped shingles off of the garage. Minimal damage was done to the house, besides some paint being ripped off.

Animals including barn cats and a bottle calf were thought to be lost during the storm because of the destruction of the barn, but some have been found.

“One corner [of our barn] was all crushed, and that was where we had the calf, so we thought for sure we lost it,” Swanson explained, saying that her husband looked for the calf right after the storm, only to find it about an hour later.

No horses were harmed, as they were not in the barn at the time.

According to Swanson, the loss of the barns is more of a sentimental thing, as it is her family’s farm on her dad’s side. “My grandpa hand built those buildings, so it’s sad,” she said. The barns have been on the Shumacker family farm since they were built in the 1940s.

The back of the barn with the most damage was first torn off by the storm, allowing the rest of the structure to collapse, according to Swanson.

“There are still lots and lots of hours of cleanup. Our good barn went down, so we’re thinking of repairing, but the insurance won’t cover the total cost, of course,” Swanson said, adding that they will have to figure something out before winter hits again. “It’s been exhausting, but we’ve had a lot of support and help. It’s been nice to have family around.” Swanson wishes to thank her family, friends and the community for all the kind words and support through this disaster.

Swanson said one good thing that came out of the weekend was the birth of baby chicks the day after the storm. “You lose a little, you gain a little. That’s my motto for this weekend, for sure. It could have been a lot worse,” she said.

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